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Thorstein finds Thurston-water 

43 fj MERE : A SAGA 


Publisher to the India OfBce. 



(All rights reserved.) 

TO R. C. 

THORSTEIN is yours. You've made him yours 

By masterful appropriation : 

As long as right of might endures 

I dare no other dedication, 

Whatever name allures. 

You've seized my copy and revise, 
Absorbed the proofs, devoured the pages, 
Retold the tale in travesties, 
And sketched and played the personages 
In many a quaint disguise. 

Thanks, Robin : for the wide world o'er 

A writer asks no finer flattery, 

No kinder fate of all in store, 

Than Five-years-old's assault and battery 

Demanding more and more. 

But now to risk the wider test. 
Of one applauding hand I'm certain,' 
Let doubts and fears go imconfessed. 
So stop the fiddle, lift the curtain, 
And, puppets, play your best. 



HERE was aman called Swein, CHAPTER I. 
who came into our country THE COM- 
once upon a time, and built ING OF THE 
a house at Greenodd on the NORTHMEN. 
Leven. His father Biorn had 
had been a landholder in Nor- 
way, ploughing his own acres, and living in 

health and wealth, until King Harald Fairhair 

fell upon the people, and fought with them and 

made himself lord and master. Then, it is 

well known, good men of the old sort, who 

could not abide to see new laws made and old 

laws undone, took to their ships and sailed 

away west. Some of them landed in Iceland ; 

some went to Orkney, and others wandered 

about the coasts of the Irish Sea to find a 

home ; and wherever they could get shelter and 

safety, there they settled. 

Biorn, with his people and his young child 

Swein, came to the South Isles, as they called 

them then, the Western Isles we call them 

nowadays. He lived as best he might, and 

died at last in battle, when Harald swept the 

vikings from out of the seas between Lewis and 

Man. But Swein found friends and plenty of 

work ; for there was always farming to do in 

spring and fighting in summer ; and in the end 

he wedded well, and sat down under Bardi 

Ottarson, who was then the chief among the 

Northmen in the Isle of Man. For by this 

time Ketel Flatnose and his folk were gone to 
A I 

Iceland, and the good King Orry was not yet 
come therefrom. 

Unna was wife to Swein Biornson. She was 
the child of a viking akin to Olaf the White, 
the great King of Dublin, and her mother 
was Irish. Unna was a notable dame, and 
Swein was the sort of man who could serve his 
friends ; so that they were both well thought of 
in the island, and hoped for a safe home there. 
But before long came Ragnwald the Dane, of 
the sons of Ivar, he that was king in Waterfofd 
for a little while afterwards ; and he killed 
Bardi and most of his people in a sea-fight. 

Then Swein fled out of the battle hastily, 
and took his wife and whatever he could lay 
hands on, and steered for the far-away blue fells 
that showed under the morning sun, over 
against the Manx fells. For he knew that 
some of his kinsfolk had already found lodging 
on the coasts of Galloway and Cumberland and 
Wales, where the land was no man's land at 
that time ; and creeks and firths among the 
hills gave them sheltered hiding places, well out 
of sight when great fleets swept the high seas 
and ravaged the open shore. 

When Black Comb grew tall on the sky-line, 
arose a stormy north-easter, and drove him 
down the Cumberland coast, until he made 
Furness, the great foreland in the bay of 
Morecambe. When the wind fell, the tide 
flowed, and carried him up a broad firth like a 
gate into the hills. Upward he drifted, spying 
on all sides for a good landing spot; and try 

as he might to the shoreward, he ran upon 
sand, and never came nigh the soil. But in a 
while he turned round a green point, high and 
rocky and covered with trees, standing out into 
the deep channel. Behind it was a green field, 
even with the water, snug and sheltered among 
hanging woods. A great beck flowed through 
the field to meet the broad firth. There were 
no people to be seen, nor smoke of houses, nor 
cattle about in the good lea-land. And the 
channel of the river at last came in-shore. 
So he stayed there, and called that green point 
in his language Gran Oddi, and Greenodd it is 
called to this day. 

NCE upon an afternoon in CHAPTER II. 
[summer time it was that our THE HOME- 
>tory begins ; and so long ago STEAD AT 
:hat we may live perhaps to GREENODD. 
(call it a thousand years since. 
jSwein and his people had not 

been ten winters yet at Greenodd ; but they 

had built a good house, and cleared land to 

farm it, and made the place look something like 


So one afternoon before summer was over, 

Unna sat rocking her baby Thorstein to sleep, 

and sewing as she stirred the cradle with her 

foot, and singing as she sewed. She wore a 

long gown of ruddy colour, long sleeved ; with 

a kerchief round her neck, and a housewife's 

apron ; but because she was of high birth, she 

had a gold band like a crown round her head, 

and her yellow hair was tucked around it and 


fell away unbraided from under a high white 
cap. A silken pocket hung from her belt, and 
on her finger was a gold ring ; but her jewels 
for the most part were locked away in a kist, 
against high-days and holidays. For this was 
a working day, and every one was busy. 

Most folk were out of doors that time of year; 
only the mother was at home, minding the baby 
after her morning's turn round the farm ; and to 
keep her company, an old nurse who, being a 
brisk body, was putting in a spell of work at a 
standing loom of the ancient make. She threw 
the shuttle slowly, and combed up the web but 
slackly, for the afternoon was warm, and the 
sun outside beat upon the roof of the house and 
made it hot. For the house was like one of our 
barns with its rafters and beams unceiled : and 
though it was heavily thatched, the air was hot 
within. It was somewhat gloomy too, in spite 
of the bright sheen that lay on field and fell. 
Though door and porch door stood open, the 
rest of the place was lit only by windows that 
stood high up near the roof, in a row on either 
side of the long hall : and they were filled with 
bladder, which kept out the sun. One spot 
there was which had been burst by the 
stone-throwing of the boys, and not mended yet 
for want of hands in this busy summer-time. 
Through the hole a ray of sunlight shot across 
the hall, and caught on the chain of the hanging 
lamp, and lit up the thin smoke that rose in the 
midst. For the hearth fire was never let out if 
they could help. Even in summer it was needed 

morning and evening for their cooking, and bad 
to kindle from fire-stones and rotten sticks. So 
as wood and peat were plentiful, it was smoth- 
ered between whiles just to keep it alight, and 
thus went on from year's end to year's end. 

The hearth was in the middle of the floor, 
then-a-days, raised a little and paved with 
cobbles set in sammel clay. One could sit 
round it, as you can still at a fire-spot in a farm- 
house of the right old sort. And grand times 
they had of winter's evenings with their great 
chat fires, or else logs of which one end was 
out at the door while the other was blazing 
under the black pot. There folk would sit 
working and tale-telling, and watching acorns 
and crab apples roast, and the boiling of their 
porridge in that same great pot that hung by an 
iron crook and a chain from the house-beam 
over-head, the " rannal balk " as our folk, "the 
Northmen's children, call it still. 

Up through the gloom and the little space of 
sun went the thin blue smoke, like a stripe of 
rain out of April clouds. Half way to the roof 
it was met by the chimney flue, that hung down 
likest of ought to a great bell hanging from the 
roof tree, narrow at the top and covered like a 
belfry with a flagstone laid flat upon pillars, 
but opening out beneath and crossed by the 
house-beam. And in this luffer or chimney 
hung the last hams and smoked meat of the 
year before. For at the back end of the year 
they always hung their flesh meat against the 
winter, and Unna'was too wise a house-wife to 


let them eat all up before the next store was 
laid in, however plentiful the season might be. 

You must know this " firehouse " (as we still 
say) was the main hall and living room of the 
homestead. Bedchambers there were alongside 
of it behind the wall, and out-buildings ; not to 
say lofts among the beams, and an earth-house 
or cellar dug out under the floor at one end of 
the hall. But the fire-house was the House, as 
one may say ; and in a homely spot like this 
backwood bigging at Greenodd a thousand years 
since, everything went forward in the firehouse ; 
cooking and eating, work and play, business 
and pleasure. This was their hearth and home. 

At one corner were its door and porch 
opening upon the garth, and at the opposite 
corner there was another door : and at the 
back part were out-buildings rising sharply up 
the hill behind. At the ends of the hall under 
the gables were great arks and kists against the 
wall, and at one end the aforesaid loom : but 
along the side were hung the men's weapons, 
spears and shields and coats of mail, and their 
hunting and fishing tackle, well out of the way 
in a row beneath the row of windows, and over 
long benches that lined the hall on either hand. 

In the middle of the benches were two high 
seats, one on this side and one on that over 
against it. They were like the great elbow- 
chairs or settles you see in old farm-houses ; 
roomy enough for three, carved on their high 
backs, and with carved heads to their posts in 
front. The children had a tale that one head 

was father and one Was mother : older folk 
would say the figures stood for Odin and Freya. 
Anyway they were something more than just 
ornaments ; they gave a holiness to the place, 
and made the high seat of the master as it were 
a kind of temple-stall. 

Before the benches on one side of the hall 
stood a long table, all of oak, like the seats and 
the wainscotting and the rest, brown already 
with age and bright with rubbing : but on the 
other side the tables had been taken off their 
trestles and laid up to make more room, and 
because half their men were abroad with Swein 
at sea. On this side sat Unna in her own high 
seat with the cradle at her feet, and before her 
the hearth with its thin smoke going up, and 
the sun-ray striking through it, and blazing in 
the fern that was strewed on the floor. And 
when the sun-spot crept upon the cradle she 
stooped down and moved it a little backwards, 
so that the bright light should not wake the 
baby. And when he stirred she pushed the 
cradle with her foot and sang again while she 
sewed at his shirt. And the loom went 
clattering on with the steady noise that is good 
for babies' slumber. Nothing else was heard, 
except the birds singing in the green-wood 
around, and far-away clamour of people working 
in the fields. 

When the baby was sound asleep again, Unna 
rose, and walked softly to see where his brothers 
might be : and her gown trained on the ferny 
floor. She stood in the porch and called, but 


hot too loudly, " Ho ! Orm ! Hundi ! where are 
you? what are you doing?" 

But they were off. And so she sat down 
again and sewed till her eyelids were heavy with 
the warmth and the dimness of the place. 

"Eh, barn," she said, "what makes one so 
drowsy ? sleep by day and starve at night, they 
used to say." 

" Most like a stranger is coming," said the 
old woman from the loom. 

For it was thought that a man's fetch went 
before and brought slumber. 

" Few strangers here but bad ones," said 

" May be it's the master and the men." 

"Why, they are gone but these three weeks, 
and who knows when they may come back, and 
how ? And it's weary waiting, and a deal on 
one's hands: let alone the chances of raid and 

" What, there's Raud thy brother and all," 
said the old woman sharply. " And folk must 
live. It would be ill liked if the master never 
brought home an armful of finery, or another 
hand or so for the farm, or a barrel of somewhat 
sharper than we can brew." 

"Aye, its a lone spot: not that I complain: 
for Raud is a handy lad. It will be a bad day 
when he takes land upbank, as he talks of 

" Nay, never heed his talk. He must light 
on some one fit first," answered the weaver: 
" and how will he do that hereaway, I'd like to 

know? As for thy man, and my man, and the 
rest, they are men, with hands to their elbows 
and heads on their shoulders." 

"Or had, you may say, to start with," said 
Unna with a sigh. 

" Heads, aye, and know their ways about. 
Look at my old man. These forty winters he 
has come back to me the same as ever." 

"Aye, he has a cat's life, has old Toli." 

"Not so old as that comes to, neither," said 
the crone. "And thankful we should be for 
our good men and for a good roof over us. 
Eh, child, when I think on all we have come 

" No fells, no dales," said she: " no loom, no 
clatter;" but she hastened to add "I am out 
of sorts to-day. There's overmuch to be done 
before they come, to redd all up for the back 
end. There's yon window now. I wonder if 
the ladder is handy. One might do it oneself 
sooner than bide for those lazy carles." And 
she got up and walked uneasily to the door 

" Nay barn, let it be: its none of thy job," 
said the old woman ; muttering to her loom, for 
there was nobody else to hear. " The mistress 
is queer and fidgetty to-day. One might think 
somewhat was going to happen." 

But the ladder was up against a rick in the 
distance, and men were on it, thatching and 
shouting. Over the water, and all round, 
wooded hills shook in the heat-haze. Unna 
shaded her eyes and looked once more for Orm 


and Hundi, but nought she spied. She came 
back and sat on a stool against her high-seat, 
and tried to sew. But the sun-spot crept on to 
her lap, like some little wounded animal, 
dragging itself painfully to refuge there. It 
shone through her work, and through her 
fingers, so that they seemed blood-red : and it 
dived into the red stone in her ring, and made 
it redder than blood : and it burned on the gold 
like the whole sun itself, a blaze of mystery, a 
dream of glory. 

Glitter-clatter went on the loom. " Poor 
soul," said the old woman: "best thing she can 
do" as she saw Unna's tired head sink back 
against the post of the high-seat, and her long 
white throat slide out of the white neckerchief, 
and her chin heaved up, like a blown wild rose 
leaf, warm in the reflected sunshine. 

Then in the stillness the sun-spot dragged 
itself off her hand and off her lap, and tumbled 
to the floor again in one roundel, just like a 
bubble that gathers itself together in the dark 
pool under a waterfall, out of the shattering of 
the spray : a dream of death. 

Glitter-clatter went on the loom nevertheless : 
and the birds sang still in the green world 
outside. The mother's dreams were soft and 
sweet, of life's love, and life's labour, that never 
fail nor come to bitterness ; for these regard 
not glory, and fear not death. 

OW we leave Mistress Unna CHAPTER 
and baby Thorstein asleep, to III. SWEIN'S 
tell about Orm and Hundi and HOME- 
how they floated boats. Those COMING, 
boys had run off to the work- 
shop where smithying was 

done, and found a heap of chips and shavings, 

and made each of them a boat, with a 

thin shaving for a sail : and of course they must 

away to the beck, as nobody was there to shout 

after them. So they ran over the cobble-paved 

garth between the byres, and out at the gate of 

the turf wall that stood round about the "town." 

Then they were at the boat-landing, among 

planks and rollers, ropes and chains, and the 

delicious smell of tar that hung about the boat 

building sheds, and reeked in the hot sunshine. 
The shore was steep, and shelving into a dub 

just there: so they ran downbank towards the 

flats that open out below the point. Under the 

crags and fir-trees of the nab they had to 

scramble over rocks and stones, and to splash 

through salt pools left by the outgoing tide : but 

soon they came to a stretch of rippled sand 

between fell and firth, and waded a beck that 

flowed from the woods and wound northward 

along their edge to join the Leven. 

"Ha!" said Orm, "now we are on my fairy 

island. It is all gold, and yon side the beck 

runs down, and yon side the beck runs up. 

Now we are on my holm, and I will fight thee 

for thy boat." 

For it was a custom among these Northmen 


when two had a quarrel to go upon an island 
and fight it out. So Orrn beat Hundi, and ran 
off with both the boats and pushed them from 
the shore until they sailed down-bank with the 
tide. There was no one to cry for, so Hundi 
held his peace : he brushed his eyes with his 
hand and pattered on, his bare feet crisping the 
soppy sand ripples, and leaving their prints in 
a chain of little tarns. And when he came to 
the next bend in the river, lo and behold his 
own boat came straight to shore and into his 
hands, while the boat that Orm had made was 
rocking in mid-channel with its sail draggled in 
the water. Orm began to throw handfuls of 
sand over it, to draw it in : and while they were 
intent upon this job and keeping no look out, 
suddenly they heard shouts not far off, and the 
clash of oars, and a great craft swung round 
into that reach and bore straight down upon 
the chip boat. A moment they stood dum- 
foundered, and then turned and ran for the 
woods like young rabbits. For in those days 
it was no idle threat when mothers said to 
truant boys, "Mind you don't go out of sight, 
for fear a man catches you." 

But just when the throb began to beat very 
hard in their throats, and they were stopped by 
the steep crumbling banks of the little beck 
that bounded the holm, they heard, like a 
shepherd calling sheep, "Ho, Orm! ho, Hundi! 
ho ! " and they turned and looked : and then 
looked at one another with bright eyes and 
panting too much to laugh. They set off 

running back to the ship, which they knew well 
enough now. The rowers had easied and 
brought her close to the edge of the sandbank : 
and that could well be done, for she drew very 
little water and was nigh flat bottomed. Swein, 
with a brown square face, and bushy fair beard, 
and bright blue eyes laughing out of the locks 
of his tawny hair, came wading ashore. He 
caught up one child under each arm, waded out 
again, and hoisted them to hands aboard. 
Then catching at the gunwale near the steering 
oar, he raised himself half-length and vaulted 
over. The water dripped from his gartered 
hose and blue kirtle skirts: for his mail-coat 
was doffed, and he wore only a belted kirtle or 
blouse over his white linen sark. 

"Eh, father, mother will snape thee for 
for getting of thyself in a mess!" said Hundi 
compassionately. "But never heed her: I'll 
say it was to fetch us aboard." 

" But my dragon is wrecked," grumbled Orm. 

" And is that all you have to say to your old 
father when he comes home? " 

"Nay," said Orm looking round coolly, 
"What have ye brought me?" 

"No great things, barn, this trip," said Swein, 
with half a smile, as he took the steering oar. 
" Now then, lads, all's well, by this token. The 
barns say little, but there is enough of it, and 
enow of them. Forward all now: a spurt to 
finish our day's work. Lift her ! here she goes. 
Lift her!" 

A 'dozen of long blades, six aside, with a 


Couple of men at each, churned the sandy 
shallows, as the boat swept round the curve 
and up stream. Long in the keel and low in 
the board she was, with swinging curves at stem 
and stern rising swan-like to the figure-head 
and the carved stern-post. But the ugly mask 
of a spit-fire dragon was taken off the bows, 
now that they were so near home ; for it was a 
belief among these people that the land-wights, 
the good fairies and useful brownies, would 
be scared by such a sight, or at least take it in 
dudgeon, and depart. So the figure-head had 
a good face for home waters, and a hideous one 
to put on when they got out to sea and to work 
among strangers. The gunwales were notched 
into dog-tooth markings and what old wives 
call box-pattern in their quiltings. The strong 
upstanding tholes were curiously carved with 
knots and worm-twists. Great oars were lashed 
to these tholes and the rowers stood to their 
work and pushed the handles. There was a 
step for a mast forward, but the mast and yard 
were lying along the gangway that ran between 
the ranks of rowers, from the decked forecastle 
to the quarter deck ; and the sail, useless to-day, 
was wrapped about the spars. There was little 
else to be seen: the few bales or chests she 
might carry were stowed below, and her decks 
were clear, as if at any moment she might meet 
with an enemy. Over the gunwale hung the 
men's shields, a dozen aside, each by its strap 
from its own pin, and ready to be caught up in 
the twinkling of an eye. Black and gold they 


were painted for the most part, and if one was 
more black then the next was more golden, so 
they made a fine show from without. 

Every man aboard was a sturdy fellow, who 
would go through with it, whatever he took in 
hand ; bronzed with the sun and great-thewed 
with downright hard work. Some of them 
were Swein's own Northmen from the Isle of 
Man, old comrades and followers of former 
days: some were Welsh of the country, his 
bought servants ; but trusty men under a good 
leader. They were all his house-mates, or lived 
in cots of their own hard by. 

So now that they were near home they laid 
to with a will. The children played helping 
father with the steering sweep, which knocked 
them over every time it was put up or down. 
Swein gave the stroke, faster and faster as the 
landing ^place came in sight, with his " Lift 
her! " and they made her spin up the last reach. 
Round she went, and half-way up the bank 
ploughing the sand. Orm and Hundi tumbled 
on the deck laughing. Then out men leapt, 
and ran her up on her rollers above high-water 
mark, as they were used with these light flat- 
bottomed craft. The easier it was, for by now 
they were spied and recognised from the fields, 
and a dozen farm servants had run down to 
lend a hand. 

You may be sure it was merry-night that 
evening at Greenodd, and Unna was wide 
awake and bustling to made amends for her 
laziness, as she called it. The servant lasses 


had a busy time, with the fire to stoke, and 
the supper to cook, and the tables to set. 
Meanwhile the men went to their bath in the 
bath-house, and shifted their sea-clothes. Long 
before the sun sank behind the high fell at the 
back of the house they were sitting at meat, 
cooled and ravenous, on the long hall-benches, 
behind heaps of barley cake and haverbread, 
and dried fish ; great bowls of broth and porridge 
into which many spoons were dipped at once : 
and platters of butter and cheese and curds, and 
trenches piled with steaks, which they ate with 
their sheath-knives : and it may be said for 
them that if some eat foully with forks, others, 
to the manner bred, can eat fairly with fingers. 
As to drinking, the lasses had their work in 
running to and fro with ale and buttermilk, to 
slocken thirsty men who had rowed from 
Carnforth since breakfast on a broiling hot day. 

CHAPTER lfe! = ^^^^ WEIN was in his own hi & h 
IV. ON THE ^^^^^ seat ' and while the din lasted 
HOWE. '^^^^^fC ate like another, looking now 

and then but shyly through 
the hearth-smoke at Unn over 
1 against him. At last "Eat, 
Unna!" he cried, "and take thy supper. One 
would think I was a merman, and stared at for 
a show. Sup thy porridge, lass, and be hearty." 
" I have supped," she said, " and supped 

" Supped with her eyes," said old Toli, for 
here he was, holding out his empty horn, " A 
dry supper, but a big one." 

" I've seen her eat nought," said Swein. 
"What has she supped on?" 

" Thee," said Toli. " Eh, Mistress ? " 

But Unna, though she was used to the 
uncourtly ways of her own folk and could 
laugh at a rough jest, was less at ease than she 
had hoped to be. When the meal began, she 
had looked lovingly across at her man, making 
out his features one by one through the 
dimness and the smoke, watching for the open 
smile that he was used to give her, on such 
nights as these of home-coming, when his first 
hunger was stayed and the feasting was 
forward: the free smile and friendly nod that 
signalled all's well. But this time it was long 
in coming: and she got only the half glances 
and the rough and puzzling " Eat, child." Her 
eyes filled with tears, and her mind flew to 
chances of mishap. There were all the men 
back, and no wounds to be seen : the ship was 
safe: what could it be? Some woman in the 
case. What else? And her quick wit, wrong 
for once, revealed to her, like a lightning flash, 
a whole story of dismay. 

Men were fed by now, and they drank 
healths, first to Odin for the kinsfolk, and then 
to Niord and Frey for peace and plenty. 
When they were come to the cup for Bragi he 
was the god of talking and of tale-telling and 
song, it was Swein's old use and wont to 
begin the story of his doings and travellings 
since the last farewell, and to hold them all till 
midnight wrapt in the tale. This time he put 

c 17 

down the horn untasted : and when they waited 
for him in wonder, suddenly hushed, he thrust 
the table from him, and went forth. 

Unna looked at Raud her brother who sat by 
her, signing with her eyes as much as to say 
"What now?" and the sign he gave her was a 
nod toward the door. 

"Aye, mistress," said Toli, "till him, and 
wheedle him back. To think of folk leaving 
good ale for an idle whim." 

"What then?" she said, flashing back at 
him, while Raud made room for her. 

"Nought that matters: nay, never ask me." 

With a beating heart she went through the 
porch, and her knees trembled as she passed. 
Swein was going slowly through the gate, 
slackening his pace, though he neither turned 
nor looked ; but yet it seemed as if he wanted 
to be overtaken. 

There is a steep path up the cliffs a little to 
the seaward of the houses, mounting rapidly at 
first over the crags by rude steps in the rock, 
and then through the great rough stems of 
ancient fir-trees, and between thickets of 
blackberry-brambles, until it comes out upon a 
clear space on the top. It is not so far that 
one need halt to take breath by the way, and 
yet lofty enough for the eye to sweep north, 
south, east and west, down the firth and up the 
valley, and across to the far-away fells. 

This was Swein's howe, where he went daily 
and often-times a day, to watch the bright line 
of the sea, if by chance a sail might be made 

out, friend or foe or merchant vessel cruising 
round the coast. There also he could overlook 
his land ; for the acres of oats and barley and 
the hay-fields lay close beneath, around the 
mouth of Crake. His own summer pastures were 
on the fells hard by, and his swine fed in the 
woods around. He could see what was doing, 
and what was left undone, from that howe: 
count men and beasts, and hear the sounds of 
work going on in smithy or shed. Here he 
would take counsel with himself about new 
dealings with this man and that, and lay his 
plans and dream over his enterprises. And 
when there was trouble or when things went 
aslew, it was on this howe that he sat to 
wrestle with his thoughts. And it was his 
mind when he should be dead to be buried there 
and look out from his grave upon his children 
and his home, and the kind land that had given 
him a resting-place from his wanderings. 

He sat down upon the turf seat on the top, 
and Unna, who had tripped lightly after him, 
sat down alongside. He rested both elbows on 
his knees as one ashamed to speak, but moved 
not away. What can it be ? was her thought. 

For now the sun was set in the gold half of 
the sky, and the other half was clear pansy 
coloured, with a round moon rising through the 
fringe of dusky woods. Below them the tide 
was flowing in, and the wash of it was heard in 
the stillness : the great rings and bows of the 
river in front swung about and along over the 
silvery flats, like the track of a skater on ice. 



And against the northern glow far away, sharp 
violet ridges of distant mountain stood around 
them, serene, above the tumbling forest and 
rich promontories of Crake and Leven. 

Then she slid her arm over his shoulder, and 
her fingers twitched at the brooch that fastened 
his cloak ; and it seemed that he was her man 
still. The moon had disentangled itself at last, 
and began to glimmer on the tide ripple. 
" Twilight brings talk," thought Unna, and 
waited for him to begin. 

JELL, wife," said Sweinatlast, 
" I am trapped, seemingly. It 
is stand and deliver, is it ? 
What, there is nothing so 
dreadful after all, turn and 
[turn it over as one may. But 
that is yet to be judged: I suppose I must put 
my case, and tell my story. 

"How we set off I need not tell. We came 
to Carnforth, and there we met most of our 
neighbours from the country-side. There was 
Arnold and his people from Arnoldsby in 
Dunnerdale : there were Raven and Ulfar from 
this side of Furness: Ulf and Sigurd the priest 
from up the Kent ; and Arni was there on the 
spot, for he lives hard by, and it was his folk 
looked after the ships of us that came by water; 
and other friends from over the sands. We 
took counsel together, and agreed that being 
summoned to this meeting, be it peace or war, 
we should go : but that we should keep together 
and make one band, for it is ill dealing with folk 
that are neither kith nor kin. 

" Thou knowest, Unna, that we reckoned 
this bit of land was no man's land until we 
came and took it. Northward beyond the fells 
the Welsh hold themselves under the rule of 
Donal the Strathclyde king: but never did I 
hear of his coming into these parts or having a 
power on Morecambe coasts. Across there in 
Cartmel they say they belong to the minster 
priests in York, and be no king's men at all : 
and beyond that again, if Ragnar Lodbrog's 
sons did ever take the land, neither Angle nor 
Dane in Kentdale or Lunesdale has paid shot 
to York for many a year: and this Sigurd 
upholds, and he is a man that listens to old 
folk's tales; and a wise man, if it be wise now- 
a-days to redden the altar as men used, and to 
build a holy place for Thor, as he has done, up 
the Kent, at the spot we call Sigurd's horg. 

" ' Fifty years ago, after Halfdan sacked 
Carlisle and laid all these parts under him, and 
began to settle them from the eastward, and had 
his king's seat near Ulfar's town, then, I grant 
you,' says Sigurd, 'this would be in the Dane- 
law: but now that king Halfdan is dead and 
all the kings that came after him down to 
Guthred, and there is no law in York, but only 
these rascally bearsarks of Danes sacking and 
slaying up and down, why, look you, we owe 
them nothing, and need but keep together,' 
says he, 'to be our own men like the Icelanders.' 
And this talk we held to be but fair and good, 
and took hands all round upon it. 

"So we got horses at the bank where the old 


road meets the sands, and came to a burg called 
Lancaster where we had to meet the main part 
of the host from the north. The burgers gave 
us what we wanted with little ado : a handful 
of chapmen and cowpers who trade with 
travellers on the great highway. But I thought 
they grinned a little when we talked of going 
against the Saxons. 

"Well, in a day or so there is a great 
trumpetting and booming, and up comes Con- 
stantine the Scots' king, and his brother Donal 
of Strathclyde, and among them Ketel and 
others of our own men from Cumberland, and 
some from Galloway: and it was hail fellow 
with many an old friend. 

"'It seems we are but short-handed,' said 
Sigurd: 'or is the Saxon king of less account 
than we reckon for ? ' 

"With that they laughed outright, and the 
cat came out of the bag, tail and all : for they 
told us flatly that there was no righting to be 
thought of: but only a great meeting of all the 
people in Britain under their kings and earls. 

" 'And pray what king do you reckon us to 
be under?" said I to Ketel. 

'" Well,' said Ketel, 'Donal flatters himself 
because I have taken up my abode in his 
borders, that I am his man. I remember well, 
when I met him first, what a wagging of beards 
there was. Some were for hunting us out, at 
which the old whiteheads turned pale, though 
I made as if I understood none of their dim 
satsnaeg. By and by the whitest beard of all 


made a terrible long-winded speech, setting 
forth how, if they turned us out, there would be 
swarms more of us revenging ourselves upon 
them : and how there was land enough and to 
spare on the holms and flats by Dundraw : and 
how, when we Northmen were let alone we 
were decent merchants, buying goods and 
servants. He said we always had plenty of 
money and brought trade to the country-side : 
and he wound up in a flowery way, I could 
understand him well: Look you, says he, 
waving his old skinny arms about. These white 
strangers (for they call us white, and the Danes 
black, and right they are to my thinking) these 
strangers, says he, will be a soft bolster to our 
heads. When hard knocks come, they will get 
them, and we shall feel the less. So they 
blethered and clattered like crows, and in the 
end let us be : and here we are ! ' 

"'Well, Ketel Bolster,' said I eh, how they 
did laugh ' if Donal suits thee for lord and 
master, he suits not me.' At which Ketel 
would at me, and I would have beaten him 
well, only they stood in and stopped us. 

"Next day we trotted along the great high 
road. It's a strange thing, Unna, that folk 
ever took the trouble to heap hard stones 
together for nought but to walk on. But there 
it goes up hill and down dale, through bog and 
brink ; and everly built with cobbles, for all the 
world like a great long hearth spot, and as 
straight as an arrow-flight from day's end to 
day's end. They told me it was folk from 


Romeburg that built it : though what they 
could have done it for, I know nought : unless 
it were a priest's trick to mark out the Church' 
gate. Anyhow it was hard riding clitter-clatter 
on the cobbles all day long : I had rather have 
galloped over the green grass: but keep 
together was the word, for there were but few 
of us, and with such a pack of Welsh and Scots 
before and behind, one never knows what may 

"The next night we harboured at a spot they 
called Ribblechester, and the next at Man- 
chester, which is a pretty place, and one would 
have thought a strong work enough to hold 
against any comers: but the Saxons took it 
last summer from those lubberly Danes. I fell 
in talk with the goodman where they lodged us, 
and it seemed that not only they in Manchester, 
but all the Danelaw, had got a thorough fright 
of the Marchmen and the Saxons, and they 
were hastening to this meeting like thralls to 
supper, each afraid to be last man in. 

" ' And who are they ? ' say I. 

'" Why, 'says he, * everybody of account, but 
in especial the new kings of York.' 

"' New kings?' say I. 

"'Aye,' says he: 'Sigtrygg and Ragnwald 

"'What!' say I; ' Sigtrygg I knew was 
bearsarking up and down in those parts, no 
king, and not at York: but Ragnwald, the 
rascal, he was at Waterford but a while since : 
what is he doing here ? ' 

"'Why,' says he, 'where in the round world 
is thy den, man or mountain bear?" 

"'Softly,' say I : 'Swain is my name and 
Bear's son is my breeding. Swain's fist or 
bear's paw, which wilt have ? ' 

'"No offence, guest,' says he: 'But I thought 
every one knew that Ragnwald was kicked out 
of Waterford ' 

"'Well done! 'say I. 

" 'And killed the old king's earls but a few 
months since, and marched into York.' 

'"Marched into hell! ' said I. 

"' No such thing: the tale was that he died 
three years ago ; but there he is, and thou wilt 
see him at the king's mote, for he will be 
there to make his peace with Eadward and be 
confirmed in his kingdom.' 

" ' He shall see me,' said I, 'and get more 
peace than he wots of.' 

"For Unna, never a day passes but I think 
of that fight off Man, and our good Bardi's ship 
going down with the Dane's iron beak through 
her ribs. 

"Well, this last day we rode over fells they 
called Peak to Bakewell, and if it was forecast at 
Manchester, here was sooth. Hardly were we 
within sight of the place, but a flock of horse- 
men comes spurring out to meet us, and after 
some parley makes a lane for us to pass through, 
one by one, like sheep counted into a fold: and 
of each a jack-in-offtce asks name and nation 
and so forth before he may go his ways. And 
when we come among the houses, which were 

D 25 

as thick as trees in a wood, we must halt till 
we are told off to our lodgings : and there we 
must bide till it please my lord the Saxon king 
to see us. Not but that we were well bestowed 
for bed and board : and to see the sights was 
something. Houses, I say, for ever, and nigh 
upon all of them new built or even in the 
building. Strangers from all parts of the land ; 
why, from all the round world it seemed. And 
all day and every day market in the lanes and 
open places, and wares to be bought the like of 
which I never saw, not even on Dublin strand 
when the fleet comes in. What little I had of 
silver in my bag soon went : but it passed the 
time to chaffer and turn the wares over. I got 
a bit of a scarf: the cowper said it came from 
Micklegarth and maybe beyond : even he was 
all the way from Londonburg. I paid a pretty 
penny for it, and yet thought I was making 
a good bargain. Mayhappen you will shake your 
head : but don it first. There are two or three 
trifles beside in a kist the lads will bring up 
and we can unpack to-morrow. 

"All this while no Ragnwald was to be seen, 
and I began to reckon nought of the Manchester 
man's tale. At last comes jack-in-office, and 
bids us to the Saxon king : and in we go, over 
a bridge and through a gate in the stout oaken 
wall new cut : and there is a yard in the midst, 
full of his housecarles, and one could not but 
see with half an eye that they were big fellows 
and their weapons were of the best. 

"I need not tell thee, Unna, what a king's 

house is like : but this burg was a sight to see, 
for its bigness without, and within for its 
hangings and carvings and gold and silver : yet 
most of all for the king we have heard tell about 
sitting on his high seat, all gold, with his high 
crown and gold staff: and his earls and priests 
in gold cloaks and horned caps, holding their 
crooks like so many warlocks : and indeed who 
knows what spell they were casting over us? 
Anyhow there were Constantine and Donal 
down on their knees, like men bewitched, and 
their hands in the king's hands, saying after 
one that stood by 'I Constantine, and I 
Donal, take thee Eadward to be my father and 
lord, and father and lord of all my folk.' And 
then came Ealdred Eadulfson of Bamborough, 
with his Angles, and did likewise. And then 
came Sigtrygg Ivarson and a scrow of Danes, 
and did likewise, only that they made oath on 
the ring, for they are not Christian men like 
those that went before. And then came 

" Unna, lass, I was mad wrath when I saw 
him, and I could have run upon him there: 
only Sigurd held me by one arm and Ketel by 
the other, and said ' Peace, man, at a mote ! ' 
And then stood one forth in the silence, and 
spoke, ' Forasmuch as you have commended 
you to our king Eadward, king of Angles and 
Saxons, and overlord of Cornwall and of 
Gwynedd and of all the West Welsh, to be his 
men, each and all of you ' 

"'Nay, not I,' cried a voice: they said it was 


mine, though I knew not I spoke, for I was 
that angry. But you may guess if there was a 
haybay and swords drawn. They plucked me 
by the sleeve and shouted in my ears ' Peace 
man, peace ! ' I tried to get at my sword, and 
looked for Ragnwald first. But the Saxon 
king sat still on his high seat, and waved his 
wand, and men were quiet again and I standing 
thrust out in the midst. 

" 'Come hither, good friend,' he said, speaking 
very fair and slowly, so that I could understand 
him well, for the Saxon tongue is hard to hear 
at first: 'Come nigh and tell me what ails 

"And I marched up to the high seat, and 
said I, 'Nothing but this, king; that I have 
sworn nought to thee: and I see my enemy 
standing there. 1 

'"Softly, good man,' says the king; ' this is 
a hallowed mote: if all foes here were to fight, 
we should eat each other up.' And he smiled, 
Unn, and I could not but laugh too, for I 
thought of yon Irish cats thy mother used to 
tell of. 

" 'And who is thy foe?' says Eadward. 

" ' Ragnwald Ivarson.' 

"With that, out steps Ragnwald as proud as 
a peacock. 

'"I never set eyes on the carle,' says he. 

'"But I know thee, Ragnwald,' said I ; ' and 
well I mind the day when thy ship ran Bardi's 
down, ten years ago, off Man.' 

'"And is that all? 'said he. 

"'Come/ said Eadward: 'this day we let 
bygones be bygones. Have I nothing against 
Ragnwald, thinkst thou? and were Bardi 
Ottarson's folk sackless of scathe to me and 
mine ? Who art thou, good fellow, and whence ? ' 

"So I told him my name and where I lived : 
and the upshot of it was that Eadward says, 
'Well then, if I let thee dwell there in peace, 
wilt thou leave thy neighbours in peace ? ' 

"What could one say but Aye ? 

" Now, all this while was the high priest 
muttering and making signs at me, Sigurd says : 
and doubtless I was bewitched. For I looked 
in the king's eyes and clean forgot about 
Ragnwald, and all the mind I had to live and 
die my own man, and no king's man. The 
people in the hall seemed to be a dream, and 
there were I and Eadward only. He reached 
out his hand to me, and my hand was in his, 
and the ring fell from his arm upon mine. 
' Kneel, man, kneel ! ' cried the bystanders : but 
Eadward smiled, like one who has mated you at 

"'Take hands on a bargain,' he said: 'that 
is the Northman's way, is it not? Nay, keep the 
ring, friend Swein.' 

"And there it is," said Swein: casting a gold 
armlet on the turf. " The bull's snout-ring, I 
call it : the thrall's collar." 

"And is that the tale?" said Unna, stooping 
to pick it up. "Oh, man ! serve the best and 
spurn the worst. I am weary of this wandering 
and warring; I would fain end our days as this 
day ends." 29 








And the moon cast a great stream of light 
along the Leven. 

" I thought there could be no welcome for a 
nithing like me." 

"Welcome?" she said. "Thrice welcome 
for the best tale of these ten years : a thousand 
welcomes if the peace but hold good." 

"Maybe through the winter," said Swein, as 
they rose to leave the howe. Then, as their 
feet brushed through the beaded dew, "I doubt 
if the oath will bind us long," said he. "Me- 
thought when he took mine, that I was holding 
a dead man's hand." 

HE winter wore and the 
summer came: and Eadward 
still ruled the land in peace. 
But about hay-harvest there 
were rumours, at which Swein 
nodded to his wife as one who 
says "You see I was right." And when hay- 
time was well passed, came people from over 
the fell bidding him to a meeting at Ulfar's 

Now this Ulfar, of whom we spoke before, 
had land on the brink of the fells where they 
met the low country, about an hour's journey 
to the southward of Greenodd. He was an old 
man, and he had been a chieftain formerly, and 
was a man of worth even now, and a stickler 
for old times and the old laws. 

Near his "town" (as we still call hereabouts 
any cluster of dwellings though it be nothing 
like a city) and between it and the waterside, 

there was a broad mound, not so high, but 
standing by itself: from which could be seen a 
great ring of country all around: across the 
firth, Cark and Cartmel way, and all the 
Sandgate, that is the road across the sands 
of Leven, and whosoever was coming and 
going, for good or ill: and down the coast to 
Conishead, that was the king's seat, where the 
York kings had their folk to take tax of the 
iron-workers and mines : and then again west- 
ward to Pennington, where the Pennings lived. 
They were an ancient family of English kin 
long ago settled there, and busied chiefly in 
getting red iron ore out of the iron pits on their 
land, and smelting it and forging it. They 
were great smiths, and used charcoal in their 
furnaces or bloomeries as we call these old 
works. The charcoal was got from the woods 
that in old times covered all the country : but 
by now these Pennings and their people had 
cleared a deal of ground: there was the 
Swartmoor between their town and the old road, 
called so, no doubt, from the cutting and coaling 
that had gone to clear it. And so much iron 
they smelted and forged into weapons and tools, 
pots and pans, and iron-ware of all sorts, that 
they were glad to sell it to the merchants who 
came in ships up the firth. When Ulfar came, 
at first they were angry, and fought with him : 
but when they found that for all their smith's 
cunning they could never give him the smith's 
stroke, as the saying is, they came round to the 
mind of king Donal's counsellors that Ketel 

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told of. They made peace with Ulfar, and 
found that he was an honest man and abiding 
by his word. When he offered to take their 
ironmongery and sell it for them, better than 
the cowpers who had come before, they were 
glad of it, and did all the brisker business in 
his company : and in the end they settled down 
into good neighbours and friends. 

When the Northmen came into Hougun, that 
is the country we call Furness, beside the 
Pennings they found a few English and some 
Welsh here and there. There were Welsh in 
the low land over against Walney, and Rhos 
they called the meadow-land thereabouts. 
There were already villages between that and 
Dalton and up to Broughton on the Duddon, 
and churches there, and priests, no doubt ; but 
such as heard little of any English bishops, or 
what we should call government whether of 
church or state. Across at Cartmel the land 
and all the Welsh that were on it had long ago 
been given to York Minster ; but Furness was a 
bit of that broad debatable ground over which 
the tide of invasion flowed from age to age 
and ebbed back again, just like the sea 
upon Morecambe shores. As time went on, 
here a piece of sand was fully reclaimed, and 
there a piece of land was swallowed up by the 
tide. So that it is hopeless now to seek the 
true boundaries either of the people or of the 
place so many years ago : we can only pick out 
here and there an English or a Welsh name 
among the Norse. 

E 33 

But when the Northmen came they took the 
snuggest places for shelter and for safety, as we 
said, from the great fleets of Harald and Alfred. 
They always wanted a good landing spot for 
their flat-bottomed boats, so that when sum- 
mer came, between sheep-shearing and corn 
harvest, they might make use of their spare 
time by pushing out to sea and doing a little 
quiet trade, or may be at times you might 
call it "raid," up and down the coasts of the 
Irish Sea. And so they went on farming and 
seafaring, turn about, and picked up a better 
living the harder they worked at both. 

Beside Ulfar there settled others of the 
Northmen along the coast. There would have 
been Raven at the south point of Foreness, 
from whom we call Rampside and Ramsey. 
Beyond Barr-ey, that is Barley island there is 
Orm's Gill, and round about it the villages into 
which his folk spread; Hawcott, the high 
cottage ; Sowerby, the muddy farm ; Sandscale, 
the shed by the sand; and so forth. Then up 
the Duddonfirth there is Roanhead, that is to 
say the headland with the grove of trees, at 
one end of the Roman road that goes by Dalton 
and Lindal to Conishead and Bardsea, which 
again is, in the language of the Northmen, as 
recorded in king William's Domesday-book, 
Barehead's-edge, and doubtless a place of 
ancient inhabitation. Then, up the Duddon 
again, there is Dunnerholm the wild ducks' 
islet, a fine spot for a stronghold ; and opposite 
to it Mealholm, Sandy isle, where in after 

times Millom castle was built. A little higher 
is Arnold's-by and Wolveswater, or Ulfa, as 
they called the river Duddon, and round about 
them many a Norse thwaite. 

After a while, from these first settlements on 
the coast, land was taken up inbank by the 
families and followers of the first viking settlers. 
Around Ulfar's town there were Rolf's seat, 
and Asmund's lea, and Hauk'svale, and Mani's 
riggs. In the lower land across the Swarthmoor 
there is one Saxon spot, namely : Eadgar's 
lyth, and outlying farms with Norse names 
such as Bolton, Stainton, Scales and Bousfield. 
Urswick, maybe means nothing but " stone 
walls " and Glassertun the beck town below ; and 
on the coast hard by is Aldingham and its Mote- 
hill where some Saxon thane had dwelt in bygone 
times. Some say the Northmen afterwards 
used it for their Althing, and so gave it the 
name it keeps, though of this there is no other 
record than the ancient name Aldhingham, and 
the burial place of some Thing-priest of theirs 
hard by, at the Godi's barrow. 

Now you must have patience for a while to 
hear a word about these Motehills, and Things, 
and what was meant by a Godi. 

Of all the Northmen in Furness our tale tells 
that Ulfar was the chief, both because he was a 
man of repute to begin with, and an early comer, 
and because he had got wealth from his trading 
and shipping iron to all parts. Being as we 
said a stickler for the old laws, Ulfar made a 
sacrificing place on that mound near his town 


among the trees that grew upon it. He set up 
an altar to worship Thor in that grove, and 
called it his Lund. To the feasts of the Lund 
he bade his neighbours ; and they were glad to 
come, not only for the worship, and to be on 
good terms with the gods, but because there 
was a chance of meeting one another, and 
talking over their affairs. So many came and 
so long they stayed, as folk who had a good way 
to travel and were loth to return in a hurry, 
that around about the Lund they built booths 
to lodge in, and set up tents. Some brought 
wares to sell, and others started games and 
wrestling-matches: so that it was quite like a 
fair, at the great feasts after Yule and after 
sheep-shearing, and after corn-harvest, the 
seasons that stand for Ulverston fair to this day. 

When anyone had a quarrel with his neigh- 
bour and there had been manslaughter or other 
misdoing, since there was no king to do justice 
they brought the case to Ulfar at one of these 
feasts, and he judged it according to the use 
and wont of the Northmen ; so that Ulfar was 
called their Godi, or chief and priest. Over in 
Dunnerdale, folk would meet in the same 
manner at Folksfield which is named like the 
Folksdale by the Tynwald in Man; and in 
Kentdale Sigurd had his holy place at Sigurd's 
Horgr, the spot we now call Sizergh : and in 
every dale there was some meeting place of 
which we have for the most part either the 
name or the spot to point to. 

After a while, the people from these little 

meeting-places or Things, as they called them, 
found reason why they must come together 
into greater meetings, or Althings. And they 
held the Althing first in one place and then in 
another: and last of all, if our guess tell truth, after 
the ravaging of Cumberland by King Ethelred 
when the men of the Morecambe coast were cut 
off from their kindred in the north, they shifted 
their meeting place southward, and used the 
Saxon Motehill for the Althing of Hougun, being 
fashioned to hand, and plain round about, 
and thereto the midmost spot for the Thingmen 
to come at within the borders of the king of 
England, in the country between the Cumber- 
land fells and the Kibble, namely the district 
which was then known as Amounderness. But 
this is out of our tale. 

Well, as summer was drawing on, Swein was 
bidden to a Lund feast: and took boat and 
landed at the Hummerside and went up to the 
Lund. There men were all talking of the new 
king, and what should be done about him. 
For Eadward was now dead and Athelstan his 
son reigned in his stead; a stirring man, and 
not one to let the fire smoulder under his feet. 
The news was that Sigtrygg of York Sihtric 
he is called by the English had marched out 
as soon as the old king was gone : but Athelstan 
was before-hand, and met him at Tamworth in 
the March, and there they made peace, and 
Athelstan gave Sigtrygg his sister Eathgita to 
wife, and confirmed him in his kingdom. 

"And Ragnwald the viking, what of him?" 
asked Swein. 




[The great 
Aurora of 
A.D. 926.] 

Nobody knew: some said he was gone to 
France, some said he was killed: anyway he 
was out of the road by this time, and Sigtrygg 
was now head king over all the Danelaw. 
These great kings being at peace there was no 
longer any chance of a rising: not that it 
mattered much to the Northmen hereabouts: 
but they were all good fighting men as well as 
good farmers and merchants. A summer 
without war was a season lost, to their way of 
thinking. So they went home again grumbling ; 
and the next winter nothing happened, but 
that at Greenodd, Thorstein grew too big for 
his cradle, and began to walk and talk. 

JVENING it was, when the 
afternoons were already begin- 
ning to lengthen, but before 
the frost was over. Thorstein 
came running in at his bed- 
Itime, and " Mother, mother," 
says he, " the fell's afire !" 

Sure enough there was a sight to make the 
boldest heart shake in its step like a ricketty 
mast. For it seemed that all the heavens were 
aflame ; as though, beyond the high hills, woods 
and forests nay, the very mountains themselves 
were blazing in a light low. And one while, 
great sheets of wavering flame turned blood- 
colour, and the sky between them was green, 
and the stars faded away. Then it throbbed, 
and shifted, and changed like clouds of sunset, 
though the sun was long gone down and there 
was no moon. Swein and Raud and the rest 


of them were aught but cowards: but when 
they turned in, they saw one another pale as 
grass in the firelight, and laughed but little 
that night. But what it might mean they 
disputed among themselves : and it was mostly 
thought there would be bloodshed wherever 
that blood in the sky had shone. 

There was another evening soon after, when 
trading merchants came in a boat up the firth 
of the Leven. Such were never unwelcome in 
winter, when folk were at home and work was 
slack ; there was time to rummage the wares 
and hear the news. These cowpers also found 
the coast a deal safer when no summer fighting 
was going on. As for storms, they were never 
out of sight of a shelter, creeping about the 
shore, picking up what they could, and always 
well entertained. They had come last from 
Cowprond, which was their "trading shore" 
and market-place with the Cartmel Welsh, 
where the old road met the Sandgate over the 
Leven. Greenodd was the only house up the 
firth, and it was not always that chapmen called 
there ; and so they were made much of. 

When they had got their packs up to the 
house, and when they had been served and 
suppered, out came news. For it seems that 
Sigtrygg had died, not long after that great fire- 
flaught in the heavens. "Aye," said the 
cowpers, "you may well cock your ears: others 
beside you guessed that great doings would 
happen. But listen now, Swein Biornson and 


"Folk said there was foul play in that matter: 
and Sigtrygg's sons by the queen that was, the 
Irish-woman, charged it on the queen that is, 
the English-woman for whose sake the king 
had taken christening: but having won her, he 
went back on his word and took to sacrificing 
again. Upon which off she goes to her brother 
Athelstan, wed and yet unwed, as one may say. 
And then dies Sigtrygg. Athelstan, they say, 
knew as much about it as another: but that is 
only guess work, and neither here nor there. 
Anyhow he is a brisk lad and sprack, not the 
man to see his sister put upon, right or wrong. 
Away he marches with a great power to York; 
and no sooner is he in sight, but Sigtrygg's sons 
show him their heels, the best way they could : 
and that was out by the back door, and away 
up the big North road, across the fells, till they 
come to Penrith in Cumberland : and there we 
lose sight of them. But they do say that 
Guthferth Sigtryggson started on the North 
road to visit Constantine king of Scots, and get 
shelter with him if he could : and. Olaf Cuaran 
said good-bye to his brother and went west, as 
if to seek his uncle Guthferth, who is king now 
in Dublin. The question is What next? for 
you may be sure they will not rest, and the 
Irish and Scots will be glad of a chance for a 
throw at the young king the king of all 
England as he will reckon himself." 

" And so that bad business at Bakewell comes 
to nothing?" said Swein. " I knew as much. 
But this lad Athelstan, by what you tell of him 

must be a fine cockerel to crow so loud. And 
now I call to mind, he must have been the 
youngster that sat on the high-seat step at 
Bakewell: he with the bright eyes." 

"Aye," said the chapman, "tall and slender: 
he would be some thirty winters old when you 
saw him : handsome and flaxenhaired : and ye 
will have noticed how his hair was all twisted 
up with gold threads. He's a real king to look 
at, though they say he is but the son of a 
shepherd lass whom Eadward his father lighted 
upon in his travels. And he is a good sort, 
they say, and has seen the world, and knows 
better than most kings how folk live. Why, he 
speaks our language like one of us, and has 
done a bit of seafaring. But for all that he is 
a Saxon, and he must stand by his own kin." 

"Well, what are we to do ? Knock him on the 

"To hold thy peace," said Unna, "is my 
advice : and watch the weather." 

"A wise woman is my wife," said Swein, 
" and knows the weasel's trick. After all, we are 
free of our oath, and need not put our heads 
into the snare again." 

"Laugh at the lightning when the storm has 
passed," said the chapmen. " Athelstan with his 
power was at York awhile since, and may be in 
Lunesdale by now to foreset us." 

"Let him come!" shouted Swein; "and hey 
for a gradely good stir-about, and pot luck for 
the sharpest claws!" 

"Look you, master cowper, and all the rest," 
F 41 

said Unna, "if you set up for eggbattles and 
put my man on shouting, I shall have those 
blessed barns awake and on my hands all night. 
Swein Biornson is a good friend to all his 
friends but himself alone. We have seen a 
little righting, to our sorrow: and the talk of 
the trade hangs about the tongue, like smoke in 
a half-burnt house. But here we are, and here 
we stay if we can. As for Swein, his bark is 
worse than his bite. He shaped well for a 
good farmer in Man before Ragnwald shifted 
us : and he shapes well for a good farmer now : 
and pity it were if we be plucked up by the 
roots again. These great kings and their 
powers come not where nothing is to be had 
but kale pottage and hard bats. I'll uphold it, 
Athelstan will be bound for the great burgs in 
the north, or connily on his way home again. 
And I should reckon it ill done of you good 
fellows to go abroad stirring up useless riot, or 
coming hither to entrap quiet folk into rash 

So the cowpers said they were but giving the 
news and meant no harm : and that it never 
had been their way to go talebearing and raising 
strife, nor never would be. At which Unna 
smiled, and got up to make them beds before 
the fire on the benches of the hall. When she 
saw them well furnished with rugs to hap them 
and bolsters for their heads, she sent her folk to 
their chambers ; put her knitting away into a 
basket; lit a rushlight in an iron candlestick; 
and bade them good-night. 

Child Thorstein was fast asleep on the farther 
side of the bolster in the narrow chamber of 
their lock-bed, with one little dimpled arm 
stretched upon the quilted coverlet. Swein, 
sitting upon a kist to unlace his shoes, looked 
sleepily at him, and then at her, as she let a 
sheaf of yellow hair fall upon her white night- 
sark : and the rushlight on the shelf shone down 
through it, flickering in the draught from the 
little round window above: for the lock-bed 
was just like a cabin aboard ship. 

"Right thou art, Irish fairy," said he: "and 
always right. But ah, you women, you never 
felt the heartiness of a good fight." 

" Nay, we are nought: that's well known," 
she laughed, drawing the curtain round the 
baby. "Bar the door, Norse bearsark." 

ESTLESS they were that CHAPTER 
spring; and Unna was anxious VIII. THE 
and somewhat pettish when GIANT 
Swein talked over the chances COMES IN. 
of a war. For one good thing, 
however, he was eager to get 
forward with work at home, so that he might 
leave the place well redd up : and that pleased 
the mistress right well. So they put on until 
haytime, which is pretty early in the low fields 
by the waterside, and these were all they had 
under hay : for the summer-pastures on the fell 
were hardly stubbed, and far too stony for 
cutting with the ley. 

Well, they were all raking by the beck side, 
and the mistress was pouring ale to slocken 


them, and the boys were tumbling in the hay- 
cocks, when there was a terrible stir in the 
woods on the other bank. These woods were 
on a long hill that made a wall to the valley over 
against Greenodd : and the fields lay between, 
and the tide ran up the Crake to where the 
valley narrowed and the fields ended, and 
there was a wath or fording-place. Dogs 
barked, and men shouted, and swine squealed. 
They could see by the shaking of the boughs 
that something was going forward : most like a 
wild-cat hunt, they said to one another, and 
left it to the swine-herds to deal with. 

But presently there was a great splash in the 
ford, and out came a most enormous man, half 
naked, with long red hair and red beard. He 
held one hand on high, carrying they could not 
see what. In his other hand was a huge ugly 
stock of tree. All the swineherds' dogs were 
after him, and the men too, for that matter: 
but he made no account of them, until one dog 
leaped at his legs as he came up the bank 
on the hither side. The big man turned and 
flicked him like a football, high in the air and 
splash in the water: and ran straight for 
Greenodd garth. 

Swein and his men ran up to meet him with 
their rakes and forks, less afraid than puzzled. 
The big man never stayed until he came to the 
door, and then he thrust the thing he was 
carrying into a chink of the posts, and began 
talking in a strange tongue. He was indeed a 
giant, head and shoulders taller than any of the 

Greenodd men, but of quite another make: 
crane-legged and clumsy handed and jolter- 
headed; unlike Swein, who was no little fellow, 
though his strength was rather in the breadth 
of his shoulders and the ropy sinews of his 
wrist and forearm, like a seafaring man as he 
had been bred. They could make nothing of 
the giant's talk, but they saw that the thing he 
had brought was a burnt splinter, and they 
knew that it was a war-arrow and token of 
righting: but whence or why they could not 
guess. Presently came Unna; and listening to 
the man's talk, she smiled, and began to answer 
him. The creature made her a low court- 
reverence, half haughty, half awkward, and 
spoke to her with a strutting way about him, 
like a cock upon pattens, as one may say. 

When he had done, "Friends," she said, 
"this man's talk is like the talk of our Irish: 
and I gather thus much of his discourse, that 
he is the messenger of a war-rising in the 
north : and bids you to a weapon-show beyond 
the fells, you and all the country side, whoever 
will cast in his lot against the Saxon king. 
And you are to send on the arrow to our next 
neighbours, and bid them likewise." 

"Speer of him, Unna, where and when," 
said Swein. 

So she asked him, and said his story was to 
the intent that he would come again in ten 
days' time to lead them over the fells by the 
bainest gate to the Scots king and the Welsh 
king and all their friends : and she added that 


she was sorry; but she doubted nothing of the 
man's faith, for there was the arrow. 

Swein drew out the arrow, and gave it to one 
of his young men, and bade him carry it to 
Ulfar by the fell-path. The red stranger 
watched him start, and saw him run up the 
fell nimbly, and nodded his head: and then 
Unna signed that he should come to the house 
for a bite and a sup, and sent the servants back 
to their haymaking. He ate like a wolf, until 
little was left for supper; and stared about him 
in great wonderment at the house and all that was 
in it, especially at the three boys, who gaped at 
him, while they kept hold of their mother's 
gown. At last he made another of his reveren- 
ces, and a speech to Swein: walked swiftly 
through the fields: splashed across the ford: 
and so vanished into the woods. 

Now when the arrow came to Ulfar he was 
right glad, and sent it on far and wide, and 
bade all his neighbours meet at Greenodd. So 
to Greenodd came two-score men with their 
war- weapons : and what the giant had left they 
ate. But it was a point of honour to give to 
all comers : and in summer especially there was 
plenty for the trouble of killing and cooking. 
They set up tents in the mown field to lodge 
them, and being all good neighbours there was 
no rough play to speak of. As for the errand 
upon which they were come, they held their 
meeting on the field over against Greenodd 
across the ford of Crake. They cleared a space 
on the fell side, and found a little howe there, 

and made a doom-ring and hallowed it with 
sprinkling of blood. Some of them that held 
to the old law wanted Swein to let them have a 
thrall to redden the stone. But he said nay to 
that, and gave them a horse. So they killed a 
horse there for Thor, and sprinkled its blood 
upon all the people, and held a hallowed Thing 
to order their doings and to pray help and luck 
from their gods on the journey whither they 
were bound. Because Ulfar was old they made 
Swein their captain, and swore to him at that 
spot, which they called Logberg, and we call 
Legbarrow to this day. 

Then began they to ask after the red man 
their guide, for it was well known by this time 
that they were bidden to join Constantine the 
king of Scots and Owain the son of Donal, the 
new king of Cumberland and Strathclyde, and 
to march with all the north upon York by the 
great highway. But how to come upon that 
highway none of them knew, nor did they know 
the paths across the fells, for they had kept 
hitherto by the sea and hardly ventured inland 
where all was wild forest. As they stood in 
their assembly, some blaming Swein for putting 
trust in the red man, and some saying that he 
ought to have been kept by force and not let go, 
lo and behold the wood opened, and there he 
was beside them, true to his appointed time. 


CHAPTER ^^^OJ^( ITTLE farewell they made, 
^* B^^^^^y? an< ^ se * ou *' some on horse- 
PRAVEL IK^^^Sk^ft back and some on foot, these 

THROUGH ^^^^^M two-score men. The giant 
THE FELLS. E^^^^SkfiJc striding along led them through 
ISiiiB^tt^a^ wild woods up hill and down 
dale. In the midst of the valleys and fells, 
they came upon the traces of an ancient path 
overgrown with brambles, and washed away 
wherever the becks crossed it. For a good 
while it ran along between hill and plain ; and 
then it entered a narrow valley umbered with 
ancient trees, and wholly uninhabited but for 
wild boars and such like, whereupon they named 
that place Grisdale, from the boars they found 
there. Then the path crossed the beck and 
crept up the side of a hill to the right hand, 
until it got above the tops of the trees and out 
on a heathy moor, where, after a while, they 
found traces of an ancient village, but all by 
now in ruins, wall and cot and dike. From the 
brink of this moor the travellers could see a 
delightful lake lying in the valley beneath, 
among many little howes and hills, and all 
smothered up in dark green forest. Between 
the hills on the farther side there came peeps of 
blue water, here a little and there a little ; to 
which the giant pointed, making signs with his 
hands that these bits of blue were all one great 
long winding mere. To which indeed they 
came, after travelling down from the high place 
past an old ruin by a river side where Hawks- 
head Hall stands now, and after toiling for 

more than a step through the overgrown and 
deserted pathways. If it had not been for their 
guide one would never have guessed that any 
pathway ran there at all, so hard to follow out 
was that old track in the forest, and so lonely 
and uncouth it seemed. 

They stayed that night at the Waterhead of 
this long mere, upon a holm beside two rivers 
that joined and ran into it Breitha, the broad 
water, they called the one they first came to, 
and Reytha, that is Trout-stream, the other, 
in which folk say trout alone do breed. Upon 
this holm was an ancient stronghold, built 
foursquare, and well-nigh even with the water. 
The walls were in ruin, and the roofs of the 
houses were fallen in. But it could be seen 
that this had been a fine city once upon a time : 
for the houses were strongly built of stone and 
tiles, and the defences were well planned, and 
there were old docks and landing-places be- 
tween sharp nabs that ran into the lake. Among 
the ruins of the houses were carven pillars and 
painted walls, so well done that it was a wonder. 
But the place was overgrown with nettles, and 
the fairest chambers were choked with briars. 
A few of the old houses were patched up, and a 
handful of Welsh dwelt in them hugger-mugger. 
These Welsh our Northmen could understand 
a little, for they were used to the talk of their 
Welsh neighbours and servants. They got fire 
and a welcome, such as it was ; for it seemed 
their coming was known, and more about them 
than would have been guessed. So they passed 

G 49 

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the night in the ruined burg by the waterhead 
of the winding mere, among the rocky fells and 

Next morning their guide took them by a 
road along the valley until they came to another 
mere, a little one, under a great nab's scar: 
over whose axle they climbed about to another 
lake, not much larger, and with an island 
in the middle of it, and shores all overgrown 
with rushes and grass. The mountains around 
seemed to rise higher and wilder, and on one 
fell top was seen the likeness of a man crouching 
down, as if he would roll great rocks upon the 
road below. They looked at him again and 
again, but their guide took up a stone and 
pointed aloft, making signs that the man on the 
helm of the crag was no living wight, but a 
man of stone. And yet some of the Northmen 
were not sorry when they had passed to the 
other side of his crag, and saw him again in 
the mist as if he were asleep on his elbow. 
They were afraid of no mortal man, but they 
knew that this was a land of wonders and war- 
locks, and it could be seen that yon stone giant 
had heard them coming and had stirred in his 

Not the least wonder was that road, running 
through wild forests, up and down rocks and 
hills, always straight forward, and paved with 
cobble-stones; no little broken path like the 
one that brought them to the water-head. 
Swein likened it to the Manchester road, and 
wondered if the Roman folk had been here too, 

where no churches were, and whether they had 
made that stone image on the fell for their god. 
And in this mood they climbed over a high 
hause where the mountains were at their wildest 
and rough screes fell down from the rocks on 
either hand through the ragged trees. And 
soon they had an adventure. 

For on coming down from that pass, they 
found houses by the roadside where it crept 
along the steep brink. A big man came out to 
meet them, swaggering, and dressed in strange 
ancient armour of iron fitted to his body like an 
iron skin. All the same he seemed very filthy, 
and sodden with drink. He gave them to wit 
in Welsh that he was governor of this border- 
land for the Cumbrian king, and seemingly a 
greater man than the king himself. "For," 
said he, "Owain and his father are no Romans, 
like the Donal that went before them. But I," 
said he, "am of right Roman blood, and my 
name is Elphin map Rhydderch map Caradoc : 
and I let no man nor woman pass without 

"Ah ! " said Swein, "here we have one of the 
folk who made this road. I guessed they were 
of the troll's kin. Look you, friends, no iron 
will bite upon him." 

And since the fellow would not let them pass, 
Swein with little ado smote out his fist, as it 
might be to try what would happen : and the 
brainpan of Elphin was cracked against his own 
stone door post. Their guide gazed awhile 
upon him, and turned him over with his foot, 

saying nought but " Aigh ! " And so they passed 

But here the houses thickened, and they 
came to a city of Welshmen that was called the 
city of Helvellyn. It was built on a rock above 
the swampy flats at the head of another lake, 
and fenced round about with a great wall of 
huge stones. On one side was the mire, and 
on the other side rough rocky ground and a 
waterfall running down from the high moun- 
tains. The road came up to it, and turned 
sharp round to encompass it and to come in at 
the gate ; and then, after passing through the 
houses, ran out again ; and so to the cliffs over- 
hanging the lake. At this city they stayed 
awhile, and the people brought them honeymead 
to drink: and it seemed as though Swein was 
made much of, and pointed out by the women 
and children, who came thronging to the door 
of the house where he sat : and at their departure 
a crowd followed them along the road, beckoning 
with their hands and making merriment. 
Swein thought they were glad to be quit of the 
long-named carle, Roman or no Roman. 

Then the road took them on the edge of 
wonderful great cliffs by the brink of a long 
mere, in the middle of which was a narrow 
place, and a wath. Here there were houses, 
poor enough, of men who seemed to be the 
giant's kin, and there our travellers stayed for 
the night. Next morning they crossed the wath, 
and at the foot of the lake they came to a place 
where four dales met among high mountains 


and crags. And here there was a sweet spot 
alone in the wilderness, with cleared meadow- 
land and a little brook coming down from 
Helvellyn through the leas, to meet the great 
river that ran from the lake, and turning sharply 
round went by a deep valley. Afterwards they 
called this river Grit-a, which is as much as to 
say the Stony water; and there is none indeed 
that has a rougher bed. They took notice of 
this dale because of its sweetness in the midst 
of wild rocks and forests, and because it is not 
often one sees four dales meeting in one spot 
like the rays of the sign of Thor. 

But their path led them onward through the 
deep valley of the Greta, with crags on one 
hand and a roaring river or spreading swamps 
on the other, until they came to a wide plain, 
and on the other side of it, at the foot of the 
mountain Blencathra, their path struck a great 
road which led them eastward. By nightfall 
they came to another of those ancient foursquare 
strongholds : and hard by, across a little dell, 
the army of the Welsh lay at Penrhydderch. 

Owain the king received them well, and 
thanked them for their coming, and promised 
them the foremost place when they should meet 
the Saxons. In his tent they met Ketel Bolster 
as Swein had called him, and the Northmen 
from the holm on Solvi's bay, as they named 
the Solway, and they fell in talk together. But 
before they had spoken many words, men came 
running in through the lanes of tents, crying 
out "They are here! " Owain bade them have 

peace : and took Swein and his chief men, and 

went out to the brow of the hill. There in the 

twilight they saw the valley beyond thronged 

with a great multitude, and knew, by the lights 

that started up from point to point, that 

Athelstan with all his power was camping in 

the fields of Dacor. 

ACOR was then, as it is now, CHAPTER X. 
the name of a village in a THE CARV- 
pleasant vale, on the border ING OF 
between the plain country of DACOR 
Cumberland and the mountains CROSS. 
Lakeland. Among the moun- 
tains at that time were dwelling only wild 

Welsh, and still wilder fell-folk akin to the 

Picts of Galloway. But in the plain country 

were many homesteads of Anglians and Danes, 

dotted here and there beside the old high-road. 

The Danes were new comers, who had crossed 

the waterparting, the Keel of England one may 

say, as they talked of the Keel of Norway. 

They had invaded these western parts but fifty 

years since, when Halfdan laid all the inland 

regions under him from Carlisle to Conishead, 

and remained there after his power had ebbed 

back over the Keel again. But the Anglians 

were old inhabitants since the days of Ecgfrith 

and other great kings, whose heirs ruled at 

Bamborough, though in diminished splendour, 

until Athelstan took their kingdom to himself. 
These Anglians were Christian people, and 

had priests and monks among them. One of 

their churches was at Dacor; and near by, a 


monastery. A church is there yet on the spot : 
as for the monastery nobody knows where it 
stood ; but it was doubtless in that valley with 
the lovely winding beck and among the acres of 
corn and pleasant meadowlands which the 
monks had cleared and tilled, bordering on the 
wild home of rocks and wolves. The Welsh of 
Penrith and Penruddock and Blencow lived 
thus alongside of Danes and Anglians: not 
always quiet neighbours perhaps, but yet on 
some terms of neighbourhood : and if not good 
subjects to Owain king of Cumbria, still 
reckoned within his borders. 

So when Athelstan had news about the plots 
of Owain and Constantine to put back Sigtrygg's 
sons on their father's throne, he marched from 
York by the old high-road straight over the 
Keel : and in three days he was here at Dacor 
guesting with the monks. And his foes, who 
had come south too late to carry the war into 
the country of York, found nothing left for them 
to do but to agree with him as best they might. 

Athelstan the king sat in Dacor hall, and the 
kings of the north swore to him as they had 
sworn to his father Eadward: and they gave 
their hostages into his hands, and renounced 
their dealings with the idolaters, namely those 
heathen Danes, the sons of Sigtrygg. "For," 
said Athelstan, "it is a shame if we, being 
Christian men and ruling Christian men, suffer 
these unbaptized pagans to ravage a Christian 
land, to burn the churches, and slay the monks, 
and rob the holy women our sisters. And if we 


three but stand together, we might clear the 
whole island of such knaves, and keep it clear 
for ourselves and our people, in peace and 

To such talk at that while Owain and 
Constantine were well agreed, and all the 
readier because Athelstan's host was bigger 
than both of theirs. 

Now Constantine had with him a young son 
of his, yet unchristened ; and Athelstan, willing 
to knit himself closer to his new friends, said 
that he would stand godfather to the child : for 
in those days it was thought nearer than kinship 
by blood to be god-sib, or bound by holy water 
and the vows of baptism. So they brought the 
young child to Dacor church, and baptized him, 
and Athelstan stood his godfather. 

When he was out of the water, and dressed 
in white, with white linen wrapped about his 
head, said the priest, " Here is water, king, as 
the Scripture says: what should hinder these 
from being baptized?" and he pointed to the 
Northmen who were standing without, and 
neither signed themselves with the cross nor 
bent the knee at prayer, but stared in through 
the church porch at the gilded imagery, and at 
the glass windows that Bishop Wilfrith had put 
there in ancient times. 

With that there was some shrinking back 
among those who had been most eager to look 
on: and Athelstan turned and fixed his gaze 
upon Swein, and spoke in the Northmen's 
tongue, for he knew it well. 

H 57 

"What sayest thou, friend? Wilt thou set the 
good example?" 

"King," answered he, " I am a primesigned 
man and no church robber." 

(For it must be known that many of the 
heathen were, as one may say, half-baptized: 
not that they meant to change their faith, but 
in order to have dealings in trade and otherwise 
with Christians, who might have no communion 
with the unbelievers). 

"And," added Swein, "I have a mind to stay 
as I am." 

"But if I bid thee?" said the young king. 

"Eadward thy father asked no such thing of 
me, when I took him for father and lord two 
years ago." 

"Why, brother, I seem to have some inkling 
of thy face. Wast not thou the brawler of 

With that they laughed and Swein reddened, 
and replied somewhat angrily, "Saving a king's 
presence, I was no brawler, nor did Eadward 
call me so, to my face." 

" Nor behind thy back, believe me, good man. 
For I tell truth when I say that after all were 
gone, and we were together at supper, my father 
said this to me : Boy, he said, we have done a 
good day's work ; and I remember well how he 
cracked a great nut when he said it. But, said 
he, the best touch of my kingcraft, for many a 
year, has been the winning of that stout franklin 
and his fellows. And he charged me to leave 
no stone unturned to get the love of you 


Northmen, such as had settled peaceably within 
our borders, and were busied in tilling lands 
hitherto waste, and in the carrying trade about 
our coasts. Now, what shall I give thee, since 
thou dost refuse the best of gifts in my 

" King," said Swein, "they say we Northmen 
are greedy of gold, and of blood, and of plunder 
alone. But by this I know that thou art wiser 
than other men, and bearest a grey head on 
those young shoulders. Truth it is when thou 
sayest that we are busied in tilling waste places, 
and in sea-trading; and this no man can gain- 
say. And indeed if at times we are ready to 
fight, and to fight our best, it is but to keep the 
homes we have made with our own hands, and 
to give them over no less than we hold them 
into the safe keeping of our little ones." 

Then Athelstan thought awhile and said " It 
has been in my mind now these many days 
that it would be a wise law, if every such 
brave seafaring merchant who has made three 
voyages with his own goods in his own ship, 
should be called Thane of England. Will that 
cap fit, friend?" 

"Well, king," answered Swein, "many a 
voyage have I made with my own bulk in my 
own ship, cheaping a little and " 

"And taking what came in thy way?" broke 
in the king with a smile. 

"That's as you may call it," said Swein. 

" Well, for the law the Witan must look to it : 
and for thee, friend, come to me once again 


when thy mind is made up, after talk with the 
priest here, and with the good monks hard 

The priest was glad enough to talk with 
Swein, and so were the monks, for that matter; 
and they went near to tearing him in pieces 
between them. 

First he must away to see the monastery: 
and in it was a carved shrine of gold and 
enamel, curiously worked, and holding their 
treasure. Swein looked for a crown of jewels 
at the least : but lo and behold it was only a 
lock of hair. But they said that this lock of 
hair was from the head of Cuthbert the great 
saint of their faith: and that it had been cut 
from his dead body when he was carried about 
by his monks for seven years, fleeing before 
Halfdan after Carlisle was burnt. And then 
they told Swein of the wonderful things which 
that lock of hair could do : how it had healed a 
young man who was diseased in his eyes, and 
such like, as was writ in the book of venerable 
Beda. Swein wondered at the casket, but he 
took little heed of the relic, saying he thanked 
them, and he would come back to them when 
his eyes ached, if no wise wife at home could 
cure him. 

Then they carried him back to Dacor 
kirkgarth, where was lying a great pillar of 
sandstone foursquared : and on it, drawn with 
chalk, figures to carve: and the carver was 
already at work with mallet and chisel, for a 
monument of the kings' meeting. There was 

the font of baptism, and over it the two kings 
handselling their peace. Athelstan was drawn 
much the greater because he was the greater 
king: and he seemed eager enough in his 
picture, while Constantine drew back like one 
who would gladly get his hand out of the grip 
of his friend. At which Swein laughed within 
himself, and thought that the carver was belike 
a true prophet. 

Then there was a lamb above them, and 
beneath, a hart worried by a hound, so fairly 
drawn that it was like the life. 

Under all was a tree, and a serpent at its 
roots, and one who plucked the apples, and one 
who took them to make him wise and to get 

"Nay," said Swein, "that is no new picture: 
but you have not got it right. This Adam you 
call him, Odin, I say as I was taught, should 
be hanging in the tree, as the rhyme says : 

I wavered, I wot, 
On the windy tree 
Nine whole nights: 
With weapon wounded, 
Offered to Odin, 
Myself to myself. 
Gazing groundward 
The runes I gathered; 
Weeping I wooed them, 
And won me down." 

" Ah! " cried the priest eagerly, "thou art not 
far from the kingdom of God. For what saith 
the Scripture ? As in Adam all died, even so in 


Christ shall all be made alive. Come with me, 
and the Lord open thine eyes." 

Then he took Swein into the little church, 
and the sunshine came through the windows 
upon the altar. 

"Behold," said the priest kneeling, "One 
hanging on the tree, wounded with the spear, 
very God of very God: given by himself to 
himself, that we who are his body might know 
the truth, and that the truth might make us 

And more he added, earnestly entreating his 
guest: until Swein laid his hand on the frail 
shoulder of the priest, and said gravely : 

"Young man, these two-score years I have 
followed the gods of my fathers : and one while 
they have been good to me, and another while 
they have been evilminded. Now I will not 
lightly take a new god at the bidding of 
yonder king: nay, not to be Thane or Earl. 
Nor do I wholly understand all thy words, 
though meseems they are good words, and 
spoken from a good heart. But this I say, 
that no priest nor church shall ever be the 
worse for me or mine : and when my day of 
need comes, if thy God will help me, he shall 
be my God." 

He took the priest's hand, and went his way. 
But the priest knelt there, weeping passionately 
and praying, "Oh God, give me that man's 
soul. Nay, not unto me, oh Lord, but unto 
Thy name be the glory." 

I AYMAKING was begun when CHAPTER 
I our Northmen started on XL THE 
[their journey to Dacor: and GIANT'S 
it was not yet finished when BOON. 
they came back, as empty- 
handed as they went. When 
they "were once again in the hall at home, and 
the red man had brought them safe and sound 
through flood and fell, Swein said to his wife, 
"Now that this man our guide has taken us 
in good faith through strange places, and 
brought us home again, though little we have 
got by our travelling unless it be gain to be no 
worse off than we were, but the more assured 
of peace and quietness : I would not send him 
away without thanks, but I would give him a 
gift, even if it be a good weapon, or as many 
sheep as he can drive. Ask him then to make 
his choice, and he shall not find us stingy." 

Unna agreed very readily to this : and when 
she had set it forth, the red man was silent for 
a time, looking round as if to choose something 
out of the house. At last he stood up, and 
made a long speech in his own tongue, waving 
his arms and shaking his head. While he 
spoke, they saw her grow pale as grass, and the 
tears came into her eyes. 

"Swein," she said, "and friends all, here is a 
hard thing for us to answer : and indeed I know 
not myself what to do. For the man says 
that he has enough and to spare of all the goods 
he needs ; and that he is a chief among his own 
people, so that he may not take a hired man's 


wages for service done rather to his king than 
to strangers. But if I understand him aright 
he says that he saw at Dacor how men 
had respect to thee, Swein Biornson : and 
that even the great king of the Saxons 
spoke with thee friendly, as with a great 
chief. And moreover I gather from his words 
that he has some foresight from his own dreams 
or from a wise man's, that you strangers are to 
be mighty in this land, and that nothing will 
stand against you in the end : and that you will 
wipe his people from the face of the earth, and 
take from them the homes of their fathers. 
Now he says that he would be thy friend and 
brother; and for a pledge of our peace, he would 
have nothing else but the fostering of one of 
our sons." 

With that they all cried out astonished, and 
Swein laughing a little and harshly, said, "Tell 
him that we do not give our lads to giants and 
wild men of the woods nowadays, even if Signy 
gave her child to Sigmund once on a time, as 
the old song says." 

" Nay," she said, "I will not anger him, or 
he will do us a bad turn one of these days." 

" Tell him that we humbly thank his lordship 
for the honour, and one day we will wait on his 
lordship at his lordship's palace." 

But the red man, though he could make 
nothing of the words, knew very well from the 
horse-laugh and the rough gesture of Swein that 
he was despised and his offer scorned: and 
before Unna could speak, he dashed his great 

club on the ground so that it tore a hole in the 
paving, and made the cobbles fly. Then turning 
round, he went swiftly and disappeared into the 
woods as before. 

They looked at one another as if mischief 
should come next, but Swein said, "Take 
courage, wife, and never fear that I will give up 
child of ours to such a foster-father : and you, 
friends all, be on your guard, and keep a watch 
on the ford and the woods, so that we be not 
taken unawares. As for you, barns, let me not 
say it twice : stay with your mother, and never 
wander away out of her sight, or the sight of 
the good fellows who have charge of you." 

Days passed, and months : and all that winter 
nothing was seen or heard of the red man : until 
it became a jest among them. For when 
any of the boys were unruly, they would say to 
snape him, " Folk would think the giant had thy 

But what with fear of this wood-man, and 
what with lack of neighbours, Orm and Hundi 
and Thorstein grew up in their father's house, 
and were not put out to foster parents like 
many children of that day. For all that, they 
were not brought up in idleness, to be spoiled 
lads and good for nought ; since, although 
there was plenty of servants, it was the way of 
these people to do their own work, and to show 
their mastery in craft of hand as well as in 
cunning of head. 

There was a smithy on the farm; for how 
else could they shoe their nags or fettle their 

weapons? and Swein was proud to be called 
master smith of them all, and would spend 
many a winter day at the anvil, forging the iron 
they brought in their boats from the Pennings' 
people. So the boys picked up something of 
the craft, maybe not so workmanlike as others, 
and yet serviceably for the needs of people 
whose things were less for show than for use. 
Their fine jewellery and goldsmith's work they 
had from abroad : but even so there was always 
some conceit of daintiness or quaintness in the 
way they turned out their homely jobs, because 
their time was before them, and they liked 
smithying, and lingered over it as a pastime : 
curling the horns of a door-latch or a candle- 
stick into ringlets with the tongs : twisting the 
bar of a horse-bit into a screw, and engraving 
a blade with devices or punching it into 
patterns. And every bit of work was a lesson 
to the boys. 

Beside smithying there was always wood- 
work to be done, for their houses were wooden, 
and many things for which we use potter's 
wares, they made of wood : as cups and platters 
and all sort of vessels. In the winter evenings 
especially this work went on round the hearth, 
while the women spun and wove. The lads were 
not long at whittling sticks before they were set to 
make arrows and shafts for weapons and tools, 
and it was a proud day when they made their 
first piggin with hoops and staves complete. 
And from that they got to carving, since these 
people were as nice about their woodwork as 

their iron, and could not abide a blank kist-panel 
or door-post, after they had once got roof raised 
and land stubbed. 

Moreover on these winter evenings there was 
story-telling and singing of ballads, which let 
the lads into some knowledge of olden times, of 
the kings and the gods, and especially adven- 
tures in strange lands. Add to this that their 
mother, half Irish as she was, and the Welsh 
thralls with whom they consorted, as children 
will with servants, taught them something of 
other tongues than their own. And Unna showed 
them their letters, drawing the runestaves with 
a charred stick on a board for them to carve. 
As to book-learning, they got on very well 
without it. 

~ PRINGTIME was now come CHAPTER 

and the children of Greenodd XII. RAIDS, 

went with their playmates from 

the thralls' cottages to roam 

the woods. For then were 

the hollows among the 
knolls by Crake side all carpeted with golden 
lilies and dim white wind-flowers. And when 
the time of these was over, bluebells, sweet 
scented, and growing as thick as grass, covered 
the glades. Thorstein, who was now four 
years old, and some of his playfairs were in the 
woods one day ; and their game was to make a 
queen of the prettiest girl, dressing a bower for 
her and crowning her with bluebells. In the 
midst of it who should come suddenly upon 
them but a wild red man, bellowing, they said, 

like a bull, and shaking his great club as if he 
meant to kill them all. But he only caught the 
biggest and best looking of the boys, and 
dragged him off. When the boy bealed and 
screamed, the robber nipped him round the 
throat, and soon stopped his noise. The 
children ran home with their knees trembling, 
and said that a giant had got their playfellow 
to eat him. But whatever he did with him he 
did not eat him ; for next morning before the 
men could start to lait the lad, he came down 
the beck with his head broken. 

Said Swein, " No use to shut the door when 
the roof has fallen in." Then he sent a good 
gift to the thrall whose child was lost, telling 
him to wipe his eyes with it : and forbade the 
youngsters wandering in woods or out of sight. 
So all was quiet for a time, and if there were 
uneasiness about robbers, it was no more than 
what everyone felt everywhere in those days, 
when by sea and shore men carried their lives 
in their hands, and trusted to luck to keep 
their women and children from bloodshed and 

In the next winter there was much snow, and 
the distant mountains were curd-white, both at 
Yule and for many a week after. Even the 
moorlands were covered and the forests were 
choked : and when great storms blew, the mealy 
snow would drift in streaming clouds, and fill 
all the hollow places and the gills : so that many 
wild beasts were buried in the drifts, and many 
came down into the valleys, where the snow lay 

not so thick and melted away between whiles. 
Sheep and cattle needed double care ; for though 
most of the stock was killed and hung in smoke, 
some beasts always had to be kept, and fed 
with the hay of the summer, and holly boughs, 
which the shepherds cut and let them pick up 
when they took them out from the byres and 
folds. Even so there was always danger of 
drifts, and the burying of whole flocks in the 
snow: and then they had to dig them out, 
which was a great labour to the men, but a fine 
playtime for Thorstein and his brothers. For 
to the boys the snow was like fairyland, and rare 
enough to be something of a marvel to children 
in sheltered Greenodd by the sea. What storms 
they feel come mostly from the warm south- 
west, and if the wind blows from north-east 
it brings sunshine, with blue sky and black frost 
that vanishes away long before noon. 

One day Thorstein went with the shepherds 
and their lads to an uplying fold to serve the 
sheep, and found the snow much trampled, as 
though wild beasts had been there, for all there 
was a high turf dike around it, with a sharp 
fence on the top such as no wolves were like to 
climb. So the shepherd began counting out 
the flock, in their way which Thorstein learnt 
from him: "Un, dau, tri, y-pedwar, y-pump : 
chwech, y-saith, y-wyth, naw, deg." And 
we may say that our old folk still use this 
way of reckoning little changed but to make 
the words easier with rhyme, as: " Yan, tyan, 
teddera, meddera, pimp; haata, slaata, sour, 
down, dick: " and so forth. 


When he had counted a score he marked it 
off on his fingers, or scored a notch on a stick, 
and began again. And so counting he found 
that two sheep were gone : and worse than 
that, they saw, by the blood on the snow and 
by the footprints, that thieves had cut their 
throats and carried them off. So away they 
went to track the thieves at once, which was 
easy enough because of the snow. Before long, 
stopping to listen, they heard a crackling of 
branches ahead, and shouted, and put Thorstein 
in the rear, and pressed forward. Then were 
seen through the leafless trees three men, or not 
men but giants they seemed, long and gaunt 
and red-haired. One had a sheep on his 
shoulders, and another had a sheep on his 
shoulders, not a little encumbered as they 
pushed their ways through the underwood and 
thick tangle. 

The shepherds had gone too far to go back ; 
and beside that, they were armed, while the 
thieves had only their cudgels. But when it 
came to blows, such was the tangle in the wood 
that they were soon scattered : one was stuck in 
a thicket, and another floored with a broken 
head, and a third with a broken arm ; and the 
robbers were off and away. So when they came 
to collect their forces there was one wanting, 
a. shepherd's son. They shouted and searched 
the wood as well as they might, for it was 
beginning to grow dark. In the end they were 
forced to return home without him, and their 
sheep were gone and all. 

When they brought Thorstein to the house 
and told their tale, Swein listened with a very 
long face, and saw to their hurts : for it was the 
chiefs business to be surgeon, both to handle 
wounds until the blood stopped, and to set 
broken limbs and bind them. It was the lady's 
to make drinks of herbs for medicine. Some 
good drink Unna gave them, and they went 
home : but Swein and she talked late that night 
after Thorstein was asleep. 

The next day Swein himself, with a band of 
men well armed, set off early, and soon found 
the place where the fight had been. Thence- 
forward by the broken branches, for it had 
snowed and the tracks were covered, they 
followed the robbers up the fell and towards the 
moors. But when they came out of the wood 
upon the heather, what should they see but the 
boy who had been carried off, lying on the 
ground, and dead. It was plain that the 
robbers had knocked him on the head; though 
why they should take him all that way, and 
wherefore they should kill him at the last, 
nobody could tell. Swein gave a good gift to 
the shepherd whose son had been killed, saying 
that he could get no other atonement at the 
time: but that one day he would gather his 
neighbours together and clear the fells of such 
vermin. And he said no more of the matter, 
unless it were of nights to the mistress. 




LL that year king Constantine 
and king Owain were quiet, 
and held to the peace of Dacor. 
But king Guthferth Ivarson of 
Dublin, to whom Olaf Cuaran 
had fled, was not in the treaty, 
and thought himself in no way bound to refrain 
from attacking the realms of Britain, but quite 

For it was an old use and wont of the 
heathen vikings to plunder Christians whenever 
they got the chance : and there was now not 
only the open door to York, but friends within, 
the party of Sigtrygg's sons, bidding him to 
come over. 

So king Guthferth and his nephew Olaf 
Cuaran and their host crossed the sea, and 
landed, as our story has it, at Ellenburg by the 
mouth of the river Ellen in Cumberland, where 
now stands Maryport, and before those times 
stood some old Roman city. Thence there was 
the good road that the Romans had made, 
straight through the fells and between the two 
waters of Bassenthwaite and Derwent, and so 
to Penrith, and over the Keel. In a week or so 
they were again in York : but not for long. For 
as soon as Athelstan heard of it he went North- 
ward, and drove them home by the way they 
came. There was a deal of confused righting, 
of which folk never will know, and maybe never 
did know, the rights. And sorely he blamed 
Owain for giving the Danes passage through 
his kingdom. But Owain came off this time 

with the excuse that in Strathclyde he had 
enough on his hands, and could not be answer- 
able for vikings who forced their way through 
the extremest borders of his dominion. Yet 
when the same thing happened again and again 
and every time the viking host left behind it 
stragglers and settlers to hold strong places and 
good lands on the Cumberland coasts, as a 
flood tide leaves its wreckage on the shore, then 
the English king was forced to take stronger 
measures with the Cumbrians, as the tale tells 
in the end. 

Meanwhile Athelstan held counsel about that 
borderland which lay around Morecambe Bay, 
where our Northmen lived. Neither Swein nor 
any of his neighbours had come in to him, 
ready to be baptized and to take his service : or 
maybe he might have set one of them over 
these parts as Thane or Earl, to rule the 
country in his name. On the other hand, the 
land of Cartmel was already in the holding of 
the priests at York, and they no doubt were 
instant in their claims to take under them the 
whole of which they held a part. So Athelstan, 
for the good of his soul, and for the souls of the 
Northmen who should be brought into the fold, 
and for the better ruling of these outlying 
borders, gave to the priests of York Minster all 
Amounderness that is, the land of Lancaster 
and the shores of Morecambe, being Lunesdale 
and Kentdale and Hougun, and the coast about 
Duddon and Eskmouth. 

After a while came the summoner from York 
K 73 

church, to take tithe and tax from the North- 
men, as he was wont to do from the Cartmel 
people. But they made short work of him, 
before ever he got so far as Greenodd : and 
when next there was a meeting at Legbarrow, 
loud talk was held about the matter. Even 
Swein Biornson, though he had loved Athelstan 
when he saw him at Dacor, was angry with 
him now, for giving away what was not his own 
to give, and lands that he never had so much 
as set eyes on. 

Then stood up one and said, " News, friends ! 
I have been lately seafaring by way of the 
South-isles and thereabouts: and wherever I 
came the talk was that Olaf Cuaran had gone 
over from Dublin to Scotland, and that Con- 
stantine the king had received him as guest : 
and more than that, had given him his daughter 
to wife. Now, what think you of that, 

There was a great hubbub when this came 
out, for not a man of them but knew what it 
meant and they were glad to think that if they 
themselves had a quarrel with Athelstan, friends 
would be easy to find. For by giving his 
daughter to Olaf the heathen, Constantine had 
already broken the peace of Dacor. 

Well, some were for war, and some for 
waiting; and they talked it over this way and 
that, until Swein, who was their lawman at 
that meeting on his own law-stead, bade them 
have peace. "For," said he, "I know this 
Athelstan, that he is a brisk man and full of 

good counsel: and I know the Saxons that 
they are not to be despised. If we alone set 
ourselves up to make war we shall be fools : for 
they have men enough to sweep us off the face 
of the earth, as a thrall sweeps out a byre 
with a besom. But if Constantine and Owain 
and our kinsmen in the north are agreed, and 
come together to invade the south country, well 
and good. My rede is to lie still and watch 
the weather." 

Now Mistress Unna was all this while in the 
house, cooking the supper for Swein and the 
chief men of the Thing, and little did she know 
that all the Northmen of Amounderness were 
being ruled by her counsels. 

"To lie still and watch the weather," says 
Swein, and nodded his head and looked wisely 
round from the law-mount on the brink of 
Legbarrow. " But," says he, " pity we sit so 
far away from those kinsmen of ours across the 
fells in the north : better it were for us if we 
could take counsel with them now and then, 
and shape our plans together. For when we 
were called to Bakewell, I mind me that we 
knew nothing of what was forward. We went 
out for war, and found the rest of them jogging 
along as to a quiet and peaceable Thing-mote. 
And then again when we went to Dacor we 
knew nothing, and were but made fools of, and 
much better had stayed at home. Now if we 
fixed some place of meeting with Ketel and 
the others in the north, we should learn the 
news of those kings from time to time, and talk 


over the affairs of our whole kindred, as we do 
here among ourselves." 

Then stood out one and said, "Swein 
Biornson and all, I have a friend from over the 
seas, new come from Iceland, Now in Iceland, 
mayhappen you know, there are many of our 
kindred who live as we do upon the lands they 
have taken, and owe no more than we owe to 
any man, least of all to kings in other parts. 
For their worship and sacrifices they have 
temple-steads as we have, here and there : and 
for the punishment of evil doers and the 
atonement of quarrels, the godi of each temple- 
stead sees to it. But it appears that of late 
things have come to such a pass, that manslayers 
who have been outlawed from one country-side 
have fled to another, and have been kept there 
as guiltless men, and thence have returned to 
do what harm they might on their old 
neighbours. And so there has been fighting 
and unpeace stirred up, and the authority of the 
godi set at nought, as if there were no law in 
the land. Therefore all the men of Iceland 
have taken counsel together, and hallowed one 
Thing-stead in the midst of the land; and at 
mid-summer they are to meet there, the chiefs 
all and all the free men, under one law-speaker. 
And if any man has a grievance that cannot be 
settled at a Thing by his own godi, there at 
the Althing it will be judged by Raven Ketelson 
the law-speaker over all. And there also they 
are to fix the feasts and seasons for the year 
that is to be : amd if any new law or custom is 

to be made, there will they make it: so that 
the whole land may be under one law, and be 
of one mind, and at peace within itself. Now 
it seems to me that if the Icelanders, being men 
famous for their wisdom, have taken this 
counsel, we too should do well to take the 
counsel of Swein Biornson, and join with our 
brethren of the north across the fells in such a 
spot as we may find convenient, mid-way 
between them and us ; to talk over our common 
matters, and especially how we may ward the 
land we have made our own, against all its foes 
and ours." 

With that they took their weapons and 
shouted aye to this advice: and Swein said 
"Friends, since we have agreed that there 
should be this Althing established, it remains 
only to mark the place of it, and to bid our 
brethren in the north to meet us there. This 
place here we find good for a meeting because 
it is mid-most of all our land to the south of the 
wild fells : and he who comes from Lunesdale 
on the east has no longer journey than he who 
comes from Eskdale on the west: and to 
Kentdale and to Dunnerdale the ways are equal : 
and across the bay it is not far to go, whether 
by the sands or by the sea. Now, when we 
were coming home from Dacor, we started in 
the company of Ketel and his men, and when 
we parted from him they had still a day and a 
half to go before they were home, while we had 
two days and a half: though doubtless on 
kenned roads, and if we had nothing to carry 


nor any hindrance by the way, we might make 
shorter work of it. But I say that if we went 
a two days' journey from here, and if they came 
a two days' journey from their home, and met 
upon the great road that leads through the 
heart of the fell country, that meeting-place 
should be our Thing-stead. And I think it 
would not be far from a little dale you remember 
well, near the foot of the mere with the wath in 
it, and at a spot where four dales met. A fair 
place it was, with a likely howe and a conny 
bit of flat that offered well for a Thing-field, and 
everything else fit for our purpose." 

So, to make matters short, they sent the 
arrow, by which men were bid to a meeting, 
round the sea-coast until it came to Ketel's 
holm and to Solvi's holm higher up the firth of 
Eden. The Northmen thereaway met together 
and agreed on their part to set off on the day 
appointed : Swein and his neighbours set off on 
the same day : and their two companies fell in 
with one another by Thirlmere, which they 
thenceforward called Brackmere, from the 
Thing-brekka or hill of assembly, which they 
hallowed at Legburthwaite, as we still call the 
place, forgetting maybe that we say Law-burg- 
field, being the midmost spot in all Lakeland 
from Solway to Morecambe. And having 
hallowed the place and held their meeting, they 
made their tryst for next midsummer, and went 
their ways home. 

Lucky it was for our Northmen that they 
took Unna's counsel, and listened to Swein 

when he told them of the briskness of Athelstan. 
For Constantine, who had received Olaf 
Cuaran and given him his daughter, before ever 
he could draw his host together to invade 
England, while he was yet preparing for war, 
saw the ships of Athelstan bear down upon his 
coast; and fleeing inland, whom should he meet 
but Athelstan himself with an army, come 
through Northumberland to avenge the peace 
of Dacor. And great mischief was done before 
the English went home with pledges of a new 
peace wrung from the Scots, who for their part 
had no mind to keep it, any more than their 
oaths of seven years ago, and only waited for 
the day when they might take their revenge. 

But if the York priests complained of their 
new liege-men, and told Athelstan on his way 
home how their summoner had been treated; 
and if Athelstan laughed and bade them study 
to be quiet, as the epistle says, and mind their 
own business : it is no more than was likely. 
For he had enough to do without taking his 
host across the Keel to gather tithes from the 
Northmen of Amounderness. 

[OW the story leaves those CHAPTER 
great kings and their wars, to XIV. THE 
tell of Thorstein Sweinson, and FINDING 
how he went up the river OF THUR- 
Crake, and how he found the STON- 
jgreat water at the river-head: WATER 
the same that old folk call Thurston-water, 
and we mostly call Coniston lake, from the 
name of our village hard by it. 


In the year after the ravaging of Scotland, 
Thorstein was eleven winters old, and a great 
lad : sturdy at all games of strength, and skilful 
enough in all kinds of work that a lad was set 
to do. He could catch a nag on the fell, and 
ride it home through the heather; make an 
arrow, and shoot it to the mark: handle the 
smith's tools or the woodwright's : swim, and 
row, wrestle and race with his brothers, and 
often beat them, and always beat the thralls' 
boys. Most of all he took pleasure in going 
about with the herds, to look after the beasts 
and the sheep on the summer-hills : and when 
they were once out and away, he would egg 
them on to take him farther, to see the little 
dells and winding valleys on either side of the 
Crake, as if he might find there something of 
the great world which he had heard about and 
longed to wander through. 

It was nigh upon seven years since the wild 
men of the fells had made their last raid and 
carried off the thrall's son: but still Swein 
would often warn his boys to keep within sight 
of home, and bid them stay by their mother if 
he himself were abroad. But he might as well 
have warned the smoke not to go out of the 
chimney. For northern blood stirred in the 
lads: and Thorstein often looked down the 
firth to seaward, and wished he were big enough 
to go viking in a ship of his own. Orm said he 
would go with him if it were trading he meant : 
and thought that they might make a deal of 
money by selling the thralls' children. Upon 

which Thorstein hit him in the face, and said, 
"Thou shan't get our little May-queen for one." 
And he spoke no more of his plans to Orm. 

Hundi was a better friend to Thorstein, and 
they talked a deal together of the travels they 
should take and the deeds they should do. 
There were those great mountains in the far 
distance, always beckoning to them; peopled 
with giants and fairies, had not their father 
often told them of the stone man that kept the 
road beyond Grasmere ? and had they not the 
dim remembrance, not easily let die, of the red 
giant? They knew by hearsay of wide lakes 
among the fells, lying all alone for the first 
adventurer to take and hold. The beck that 
flowed through their fields, and the greater 
Leven that they could see from the howe or 
from Legbarrow winding far away among the 
hills, came down, so the Welshmen said, out of 
wide waters full of fish and haunted by fowl 
in countless flocks. And as they sat on 
the rocks at Crakemouth when the tide was low 
moulding clay arrowheads in the rune-shaped 
clifts and chinks of the smooth rock, they 
wondered what troll or fairy had been there 
with chisel and mallet, and what more marvel- 
lous marvel there might be to find in the 
unknown wilds beyond. Crake, Cregiog as 
their Welsh called it, the rocky river, came 
down night and day, sometimes fierce and 
swollen, sometimes faint and shrunken, but 
always singing over its rocks the same song of 
enticement. " If we could only track the beck," 

L Si 

they said, "and find the great water, and take 
the fish and fowl, and build a house by the shore 
and make a boat ! " 

So at last the wish grew into a plan, and the 
plan into a purpose. When nobody was 
looking they were to slip away: follow the 
Crake to its mere, take the land about it, and 
make a backwood bigging of their own. They 
filled a bag with meal, took their knives in 
their belts, and set off one morning early, as 
though they were going for a day with the 
shepherds. But where the fields ended, they 
took the path to the outlying folds : and when 
they were near the folds, they turned through 
the woods to the river, so that they might not 
be seen, and scrambled for a great way up the 
stony channel. It was only half filled, 
because, as often happens in those parts, the 
spring had been dry, and the rainy weather was 
yet to come on, after the days began to shorten. 

For a while it was easy work : there is a flat 
shore on the left hand, and they could run over 
the shingle even where the water went swiftly 
and fell in eddies and foam over rock-ridges. 
But soon the hills on either side close in : the 
banks are steep : the river foams beneath thick 
trees which spread their branches, making the 
squirrel's bridge overhead. Thus it is even 
nowadays, but in yon old times in many places 
great firs had fallen right across the deep 
channel, or huge oaks had lost their hold of the 
rocky bank from very weight of age, and had 
rolled into the torrent, to be weirs and dams 

that held the water and flooded the banks : so 
that what with the swamp, wherever there was 
a bit of flat shore, and what with the rock walls, 
or the slippery sodden tufts of moss and fern, 
wherever the gill-banks were brant, the lads 
made but little way. And whoever has stood 
upon Spark Brig and looked up-bank and 
down-bank, and dreamt over a time when all 
the mills and houses were unbuilt, and the land 
uncleared, and nothing but wild timber, dank 
and dense, filled the dale, with the logs that 
rotted where they fell, and the brambles and 
creepers that matted the growing trunks 
together : and wild bulls and wild boars, wolves 
and cats, hag-worms and lizards, and maybe a 
bear or two, tenanted the place : he will know 
what the adventure of those two boys was like. 
And whoever has fought his way up one of our 
moorland gills where the land is still rough, will 
know how they stumbled over the shallows, and 
scrambled over the boulders, and waded the 
mires, and swam the dubs, as they came through 
the jaws of Crake, and out into the easier 
ground by the eyot beneath Lowick Green, as 
it is now. There, if the river was less rough, 
the trees were still thick and the banks steep : 
and on the right hand the fells seemed to come 
nearer : and standing out through the black fir- 
trees high over head, white brows of crag 
seemed to frown and nod above them, as they 
sat on a great stone in mid-stream to take 
their breath. 

The king-fishers flitted past, blue flashes in 


the green gloom. Where a ray of sunshine came 
in through the vault of trees overhead and 
pierced the brown water, they could see, 
beneath mossy rocks fringed with fern, little 
dippers running over the bottom among the 
trout, and as free as if they were on dry land, 
for all the rushing of the water. Now and 
again a wild animal ran down to drink, and 
started back crashing into the wood : but there 
was no sign of houses, nor of men dwelling in 
this uncouth wilderness. 

They toiled on again, mounting the stream 
where it breaks over long-drawn ledges, around 
a rocky eyot at a sharp bend, and through a 
swampy tarn (as it was then) till they came to 
the spot where Lowick bridge now stands. It 
was high noon. They sat down on the steep 
bank above the swamp ; and taking handfuls of 
the meal from their bag, soaked it with 
the clear fresh water and made their dinner. 
When it was done, said Hundi, "Well, old 
forge-ahead, how much farther? For my part I 
call the shepherds' tales all Welsh lies. There 
is no great water that we can see, only this 
dirty puddle : and we shall have work enough 
to get home before supper-time, down the 
screes we have climbed and this waste of 

"Nay," said Thorstein, "the beck must 
come from somewhere, and I mean to see the 
end of it." 

"What, and sleep in a tree like a squirrel?" 

"Why not, if I must, thou slug-a-bed? The 
nights are short and warm enough." 

"Well then," said Hundi, " I will sit on the 
howe over there, and wait until the conquering 
hero comes back. I'll count a hundred, * and 

"And then go home like a wise lad to thy 
mother, and say Thorstein is coming to-morrow 
with news, and a great fish out of Thorstein's 
mere; for it will be none of Hundi's." 

" Hundi's howe is here, Thorstein's mere is 
nowhere." And indeed afterwards the story 
says that Hundi lived hard by, and was in the 
end buried on that howe: but that is still to 
tell. Said he, "A wilful beast must gang his 
own gate, and I'll not mar sport, nor splash thy 
mere to frighten thy whales. Come, Thorstein, 
don't be a fool. Turn back with me now, or 
rue it!" 

"Neither, dear lad: and don't anger me, but 
hie thy ways home, and bid them not worry. 
Happen I'll light on my journey's end sooner 
than we think for." 

"Happen thou'll light on mischief sooner 
than thou think'st for. Come along, I say." 

"Go along, I say. We can't miss the road, 
for its down-bank for thee and up-bank for me 
to the end." 

"Nay, that's an ill speech," said Hundi, "for 

"Well then, home for thee, and away in the 
wide world for me, for evermore. Will that 

"Nor that either. I wish thee luck, and thy 
big fish: and I'll foreset the scolding that 


awaits thee : and have thy breakfast kept warm : 
for yon bag of meal will be gone before 
to-morrow, if I know aught." 

"Good lad, then; we part friends:" and 
Hundi turned and slid down the bank and 
splashed down stream: for he was always an 
easy-going lad. 

But Thorstein toiled on as before, and found 
his work no less, at first : for he had to win his 
way up Lowick force and through the swamps 
at its head. But then he saw, at last, rising 
above the trees, a crest and a cone, of high 
rugged fells, distant indeed, but not a mere 
blue line as he had seen them from the heights 
of Greenodd. The afternoon sun threw its 
lights and shadows on the great scars of 
Dowcrags, and the rocks of the Coniston Old 
Man stood out bold in the blue air. 

The lad's heart leapt up, and he shouted as 
he plunged again in the rapids that swirled 
beneath the wild steeps on his right, and the 
long dark slopes of Blawith, the Blue- wood, on 
the other hand. By and by he was lost again 
in the crooked ravine where the Nibthwaite 
Mills now stand, where the water narrowed to 
half its former breadth, and slid over ranks of 
rock, sloping downwards like carven tables, or 
a giant's stairway, sunken and aslew. But at 
the head of every force, there were the great 
fells again in sight, and every time nearer and 
clearer, grander and more wonderful. At last 
he came to a sweet round tarn. It was bedded 
in the woods, and the likeness of every several 

branch lay upon the water. Thorstein shouted : 
but then he stayed. Was this the mere he had 
come so far to seek ? and no more than this ? 

He pressed forward, round the miry edges of 
the tarn, and stumbled through the narrows of 
Arklid. Hitherto the stream had been ever 
narrower, and, but for a few ledges and flats, 
ever steeper: but here it suddenly became both 
still and deep, and opened out into breadth. 
Thorstein's heart beat hard when the wood 
thinned, and the waterway broadened, and the 
world grew brighter, and lo, beyond, a great 
gleam of blue, and a blaze of golden sky. 

Close beside him, seal-bushes fringed the 
shilloe beds, bulrushes stood in their ranks 
right out into the shallows, and purple flags 
and white and yellow water-lilies lay along the 
edges of the lake. On either hand, seaming 
the deep forest that clothed the sides of the 
valley, sharp craggy spurs came down, as it 
were gateposts to the hall of hills ; and broke at 
their bases into long nabs, rounded here and 
rocky there, running far out into the mere and 
tufted to the water-edge with dark oaks and 
dark firs. And between, there were blue nooks 
of ripple reflecting the evening sky, and the 
wild ducks and teal swam through the ripple, 
and the gulls floated above it : and in lound 
spots a hundred rings showed how the fish were 

Thorstein climbed a howe on the left : and as 
he climbed, the lake opened up before him. 
Beyond the nearer woods there was the deep of 



blue, and the lonely island in the midst of it : 
and from his feet, away into the uttermost 
distance, the huge fells, tossing like the breakers 
on a stormy beach, and rolling away and afar 
like the heaving waves of the sea. And over, 
them late sunset brooded in the North, with 
bars of level cloud, purple and gold, and fading 
rose-flecks overhead. 

Unwearied in his exultation, the lad ran 
down to the shore again, and stripping off hood 
and kirtle, hose and shoes, all stained and 
ragged with scrambling through brake and 
briar, he waded out into deep water, plunged 
beneath, and swam sturdily through the calm- 
ness. Then he flagged at last, and crept 
ashore, and donned his clothes, and looked 
about him for a safe night-lair ; smiling as he 
thought of Hundi's horror at sleeping like a 
squirrel. He crept into the boughs of a great 
spreading oak, and its thick leaves sheltered 
him like a thatched roof and hid him like the 
hangings of a shut-bed. The level clouds drew 
together ; the purple colour darkened into black ; 
and a line of dusky light alone lingered in the 
North over Helvellyn, while he slept, dreamless. 
HORSTEIN slept on in the 
tree long after the day had 
dawned through those level 
clouds : for at mid-summer in 
Lakeland it is never black 
night; the sun only dives, as 
it were, behind a fell or two, and up again ; 
and you can follow its track by the light 

that travels round the north, like the ripples 
which betray a diver in shoal water. But 
this dawning was a dull one, for those level 
clouds had lowered, and thickened, and turned 
to rain : and wind came up from the seaward, 
as the gulls had foretold. And yet it mattered 
little to the lad in his oak-tree lair, except that 
no loud singing of birds awoke him, and the 
dimness of the light let him sleep on when he 
should have been well on his way homeward. 
For as to the plan of taking land and building 
a house and a boat, that was out of his mind 
now that Hundi was gone. To take land, one 
must go round it with fire, and have witnesses 
to the deed. Some other day he would come 
back, now that he knew the road. And it was 
lonely waking there in the damp, hungry and 
stiff, with all that waste of wilderness to tread 
before ever he saw home again. 

Back along the bank of Crake and round the 
little tarn went Thorstein until he heard, in the 
woods on his right hand, shouting, and the 
voices of men. At once his heart came into 
his mouth and he stood stock-still to listen. 
Could it be Hundi come back, and the Greenodd 
folk in search of him ? What if they should go 
forward and find his mere, and he away and 
out of it all ? What of the chance of a good bag 
of meal or a barley cake somewhere about 
them ? For he was both clemmed and starved. 
So he crept through the wood, and now and 
again the noise came louder. He followed it, 
slowly forcing his way among the deep fern and 
M 89 

the brambles under the great trees. The voices 
were heard more plainly now, singing and 
shouting in a strange manner. It was not 
Hundi and the Greenodd folk: but who? 
Thorstein was drawn by a great desire to know 
this secret of the woods, and to add one more 
marvel to the story he should tell at supper. 

On the top of a little howe, clear of trees, but 
rocky and ferny like the wildest moorland, 
there was a great heap of stones, whether grave 
or cot it would be hard to tell : and beside it 
in the fern sat huge men, red haired and red- 
bearded, crane-legged and clumsy handed and 
jolter-headed, clothed rudely in skins, and 
devouring great ugly gobbets of flesh from a 
roebuck they had killed, and seemed to eat 
with little or no cooking. Thorstein gazed at 
them openmouthed and astonished : it was like 
a dream of the wonders he had pictured to 
himself, but never fully hoped to set eyes on. 

The branch he held by, snapped : and 
forthwith there was a terrible shout, and a crash 
on his head, and he seemed as in a dream to be 
falling down a dark pit. 

Then it was all light, grey light, and no 
green gloom of the woods; and beneath him 
the red ling-blossom fled away, as he was 
carried by someone or something swiftly over 
the wide moor. He began to know that .he 
was weary and in a great pain of his head ; and 
at every stride of his bearer he was jerked so 
that it hurt him. He kicked and struggled ; 
the huge red man put him into the middle 

of a deep heather-tuft, and set himself down to 
look at the lad, as a cat watches a mouse. 

Then Thorstein rose on his knees and tried 
to scramble away, but the giant man just 
reached out and gave him a great batt with his 
hand, that sent him heels over head, scratching 
his face in the heather. Then the same thing 
happened again; and the third time Thorstein 
plucked himself together and flew at the giant, 
snatching out his knife, and minded in his rage 
to stick it in anywhere or anyhow. But the 
giant never moved off the stone where he sat : 
he just caught the knife in one hand, and with 
the other crushed the lad down. He looked at 
the knife long and curiously, then he nodded 
and laughed to himself. Then he looked at 
Thorstein where he lay on his back, kicking up 
the ling-blossoms : and then he waved the knife 
as if to draw it over Thorstein's throat. Thor- 
stein shut his eyes and his mouth as tightly as 
he could. 

The cold knife cut his neck a little, and the 
blood came; Thorstein waited to be killed. 
The rain pattered on his eyelids, and when he 
opened them again half blinded, but not with 
tears, the giant was looking at the knife-handle 
and the pattern on its blade: and nodding to 
himself. Then he picked up the lad under one 
arm, and strode off through the heather. 



EYOND the heather was the 
giant's home, on the fell 
^between Blawith and Brough- 
ton. You may find the spot 
even nowadays with little 
earching, if you make for a 
farm called Heath wait e, and up behind it to 
the brackenbeds between Kirkby Moor and 
Blawith Knott. There among the borrans 
which the mowers have heaped of autumns to 
clear the land for their leys, there is a deal of 
other borrans, and older ones, that no man 
minds the building of: though yearly work on 
the land keeps them up, so to say. You can 
see that they are ruins of a kind of homestead, 
with its little garths, and greater intakes on a 
ridge of fell. On one hand there are the waste 
wet mossss of the moor, and on the other 
hand, far below, the great flats of Woodlands, 
dotted with old farmsteads and thwaites, and 
surrounded by the tossing rocky range of 
Dunnerdale fells, from the Coniston Old Man 
on the right hand away down to Black Comb 
and the glittering sea. 

In a high place like this, people might live for 
many a long year unseen and unknown of their 
neighbours in the dales: and if they were 
hunters and robbers, no doubt they could pick 
up a living of a sort even now : but in old times 
when the land was waste, it was as good a place 
as could be for the home of wild half- savage 
fell-folk. The ground is not so high as to be 
bitterly cold in winter, and at a time when 

there were trees in plenty where now is only 
fern or heather, they could find cosy shelter. 
Down in the valley at that time every thing was 
smothered up in wild wood, or uninhabitable 
for swamps and dampness, except where the 
ground had been cleared and drained by the 
hand of man. But high on the moors the 
ground drained itself: so that both for health 
and wealth it was the moor that was the 
chosen home of the earliest dwellers among the 
mountains : and their children lived on in the 
old places here and there, even after new comers 
had begun to make their farms and villages 
where we see them nowadays. 

Here at Heathwaite fell you can see the walls 
of their buildings, and even in little corners 
what may be chambers, or store-houses, or 
fire-spots, or what not, curiously built of great 
stones: but all quite different from the farm- 
buildings of our own people, and plainly the 
relics of an earlier race. Beside these homesteads 
there is one heap that is round and hollow in 
the midst, with a spot for a doorway, and well 
built within and without. Though the top of 
it is all fallen in, one can see that it might have 
been a hut shaped like a beehive, and roofed 
over with stone walling like those Pict-houses 
they tell of in other parts : this would be high 
enough inside for a big man to stand up in, and 
broad enough for him to lie at length. And all 
about the place there are the remains of huts 
ruder and more ancient than even this, though 
not of the kind that were made in the earliest 


ages of all, when folk used only stone tools. 
These show some knowledge of walling; and 
yet among them is plenty of graves where the 
fell-folk doubtless lie buried. At one end of 
this settlement, as they call it, there is a great 
barrow in which folk digging found burnt bones 


and you can see the tall stone that stood at the 
head still standing there. They call this place 
the Giant's Grave: and old neighbours tell that 
it is the burial place of the last of the giants 
who dwelfr in that moorland village, and that he 
was shot with an arrow on that very fell side, 
and so was killed, and his race ended. 

Well, when the big red man strode off 
through the heather and the ragged birches of 
the moor with Thorstein under his arm, this 
was the spot he came to. He marched in 
at the gate of the intake, and up to the 
homestead through cattle-folds with little cows 

of the old Northern breed and rough mountain 
goats, grazing between the walls: and through 
patches of kale and rye by the side of the tarn 
which lies blue and clear in the midst of the 
place. There in the evening sunshine, among 
the huts, would be a dozen or so of women and 
children, dirty and half-naked, both the old 
hags and the little goblins. They had four posts 
set upright in the earth, and a skin stretched 
over them in which was seething upon a fire of 
sticks a mess of flesh in its own broth. Some 
were making ready for the evening's feast, and 
some were cobbling skins together : but for the 
most part they were a set of idle do-noughts, to 
reckon by the filth and hugger-mugger in which 
they lived. 

They raised a screech when Thorstein was 
brought in and cast on the ground : and set 
upon him to stare at him and pull him about ; 
until what with the raggedness of his torn 
clothes and their handling he was mother-naked, 
and not a little ashamed of his plight, and of 
his white skin. Not that the fell-folk were 
blackamoors; but they were sunburnt with 
going half-naked, and grimy with dirt. So there 
he sat, part covered with litter and bracken 
which he pulled over himself; and he brazened 
it out as well as he could. 



N a while the rest of the men 
came up, not all as huge as 
the giant who had caught him, 
but all long fellows, gaunt 
with fell-running and hard fare. 
They began their feast, dipping 
bowls and spoons into the skin over the fire, 
and drinking out of horns and cups until they 
were merry. Then one of the youngsters spied 
Thorstein where he sat, and threw at him the 
bone he had been gnawing. Thorstein warded 
it off with his hand, and others that were 
thrown : but whenever they hit him there was a 
horse-laugh. When all the bones were gnawed 
and thrown, one of them picked up a dart, 
which he threw at the lad : and it would have 
made an end of him, but Thorstein dodged it : 
at which they all cried "Oigh! " and seemed to 
wonder at his address. 

Last of all one of the men, seemingly enraged 
at his luck or cunning leaped up and ran at him 
with a cudgel, a thick stick with a stone 
hammer-head at the end of it. Thorstein had 
been through too much to cry out now: but 
what was his surprise when one of the children, 
a great girl with long red hair over her bare 
shoulders, ran in and flung her arms round him, 
half smothering him with her mane and the 
closeness of her embrace. 

Then there was gabbling in a strange tongue 
while she kept him tight and seemed to forbid 
the giant lad to touch him : and the chief of 
them all spoke long, waving his arms and 

nodding his head, as who should say " Let the 
barn be, and we will keep him for our thrall." 
He seemed to show how he had threatened the 
lad with his own knife, and held up the knife, 
and pointed away over the fells : from which 
Thorstein gathered that they knew whence he 
had come and somewhat of who he was : and 
for the first time a gleam of hope shone into his 

In the end they gave him some of their meat, 
which he loathed and could not swallow: and 
pushed him into the stone hut, the best that 
there was, though even this could not be 
entered except by creeping: and they signed 
that he should lie down and go to sleep. But 
little sleep came to him : the place was filthy, 
and he was among unfriends ; his head ached 
and all his bones were sore. So he watched 
them as they came in one by one, and stripped, 
for the hut was as hot as an oven : and they lay 
down, as it seemed, in a heap, like snakes in an 
old tree root. 

At last all was quiet without, and within they 
were snoring. The air was thick and foul: 
Thorstein could not breathe. It was fun to 
sleep in a tree with squirrels, but this was 
sleeping in a pighull among swine. He dragged 
himself like a worm, a little nearer the doorhole 
and then lay still. After a while he dragged 
himself a little nearer : and lay still again, with 
his heart beating so loud, he feared it would 
awaken them all. 

Out into the fresh air Thorstein crept in the 
N 97 

end : and it was like a draught of cool ale after 
haymaking to taste the night wind. He stepped 
warily between the huts, straining his eyes in 
the gloom lest he should run against anything, 
for the night was cloudy and there were no 
stars, not even the dawn-streak in the north. 
He groped his way like a white ghost to the 
first wall, and began to climb it; but just as he 
reached the coping, down it came with a rumble 
and a thud, and the stones fell on his feet and 
crushed them, so that he could not stir for the 
pain. And straightway he was in the grip of 
the giant again, who belaboured him with a 
dart, as if he had been a dog. The pain of his 
crushed feet and sickness was such that Thor- 
stein felt little of the giant's blows, though every 
time the dart-head touched him, it cut into the 
bare flesh. 

But when he woke up at last, it was in the 
nasty hut : and every one was gone except the 
child who had flown at him before; and she 
was nursing his head and weeping over him. 
She looked so ugly, thought the boy, as he 
opened his eyes, with her face all blubbered 
and red, and the tears making dirty water- 
courses down her freckles, and dripping off her 
chin, and upon her rough red hair that hung 
all about. But when he came to himself, she 
called out shrilly, and an old woman brought 
milk in a pan and put it to the lad's mouth : 
and when he drank, the child let go his head to 
clap her hands and laugh. It hurt Thorstein 
to drop his head, but he thought she was less 

ugly when she laughed, and threw back her 
hair : and he saw that her eyes were blue, and 
her teeth shone. And it rested Thorsteinwhen 
she took up his head again, and smiled and 
stroked him. 

To make a short story, he lay there for days 
and nights, and sometimes slept, and often 
raved, and only now and then knew that the 
child was holding him and giving him drink 
from the milk-pan. Whether it was dark or 
light when he awoke from wild ugly dreams of 
swamps and snakes, and things chasing him 
through the brambles, and high endless walls to 
climb, and torrents of stones rolling down with 
him into the snakes again : whenever he came 
to his senses there she was, and no other pillow 
he had. In the end, the fever left him. As for 
his wounds they let the bark harden, and 
Thorstein had a whole skin before ever he was 
strong enough to stand up in it. 

But when he could look about him, the child 
seemed to be eager in giving him what pleasure 
she could. She brought out a little kist that 
held her treasures: there were shining beads, 
and pennies of silver and gold with holes to 
hang them by, and a gold thing like a Thor's 
hammer, but Thorstein guessed it must be a 
cross ; for the child set it up and knelt down 
before it and prayed, looking sometimes at it 
and sometimes at him. Thorstein knew that 
his own people set little store by Christians, 
because they were not so good at fighting as 
the Northmen, and because they could be over- 





reached by their chapmen, so they said: and 
he thought that all strange uncouth folk were 
Christians, as a matter of course : and so the 
wonder was less that giants and troll-kin in 
filthy huts should be of that faith. 

But when he slept again after this awakening, 
he dreamed that he was at home, and his 
mother was kissing him good night, and stoop- 
ing above him through the hangings of his 
own shut-bed : but her hair seemed to be all red 
like fern on the fells after early frost when 
the summer is over. 

O Thorstein was healed of his 
sickness; but not until the 
summer was far spent, and not 
until he had begun, little by 
little, to learn words of the 
fell-folk's language. For what- 
ever the child did for him or showed him she 
was not silent about it, but chattered the while, 
and often said its name loud and plain ; and 
when he said it after her, she laughed and 
nodded. When she brought him milk she 
would say "Bainne:" and sometimes when he 
was thirsty the little roguish creature would 
wait awhile, as he clacked his tongue and licked 
his lips, until he would say " Bainne : " and then 
she laughed and brought the milk-pot. And 
Thorstein soon learnt with such teaching, and 
never thought of being shy as children are when 
they are taught a strange tongue. Nor was it 
quite strange to him : for his mother had told 
him a few words of her mother's language, 

which was Erse, and not unlike the words of 
these people, only spoken a little otherwise. 
So when he one day saw a ring in the child's 
treasure-ark, and came out with "Fainne," and 
saying "Meur" put it upon her ringer, she was 
astonished, and the rest of them laughed. 

Now that he offered no longer to run away, 
they treated him well after their fashion. He 
got the cream of the milk, as if he had been a 
chiefs son at fostering: although the cream 
was always sour from keeping in foul crocks of 
rough clay; and indeed they liked it so, as 
though new cream were tasteless. There was 
always plenty of flesh meat, of roe-deer and 
hares and other savoury sorts, good enough, 
said he to himself, if one does'nt watch the 
cooking. As the saw says "What the eye 
never sees, the heart never grieves after," so 
their clarty ways vexed him less and less, as 
the days wore, and as Greenodd began to be 
like a dream on the other side of awakening. 

Lying in the hut, or sitting out in the sun 
wrapped in a deer-skin, Thorstein watched the 
people, and when they were not so new to him 
they seemed less strange and uncouth. Even 
when the men came in, whereas at first he crept 
as far out of the way as he could, at last he was 
drawn to look on at the game they brought, 
red-deer and roe-deer, wild boar and hares, all 
manner of moor-fowl and mere-fowl, and 
wonderful fish, spotted trout, and silver and 
golden char, whose pink flesh is the delicatest 
of all eating. Thorstein had seen some little 


sport at Greenodd, but it was plain that here 
the great lake was a teeming fish-pond and the 
great fells one deer-park, and that these red 
men were the cunningest of hunters and fishers, 
if their farming was nought. 

Nor were they rough with him now. Once, 
when a huge youngster began to tease him with 
some more horse-play, the giant carle who was 
father and chief of them all, laid open the lout's 
head for him. And if once he had thought 
that they had no manners, and their customs 
were beastly, now he began to find that they 
were cunning in their own craft, eloquent in 
their own tongue, kind to their own kin, and 
proud of their own havings. It was not always 
growls and blows : many a time the little wench 
would play with her ugly father, and cuddle 
him prettily, and he would pet her as if, said 
Thorstein to himself, they were no Christian 
savages, but decent Thor-fearing folk. And if 
he had looked down upon them as the dirt 
beneath his feet, he now gathered that they 
reckoned less of him than he thought for, and 
kept him at arm's length while they treated him 
well, just as a boy treats a squirrel he has 
caught, stroking it while he holds it hard, for 
fear it should bite. 

So the summer wore and the autumn came, 
and Thorstein was kept within walls or close at 
hand. He spent his time with the women for 
the most part, helping them in their work, but 
much as he liked. They let him stack wood 
for fires: sew and fashion such garments as 

they made from skins, or from cloth that they 
got by barter for pelts among the Welsh. 
Sometimes he was let milk the cows and goats, 
and take them to pasture; but then there was 
always somebody to watch that he should not 
run away. Other whiles he tried his hand at 
woodwork : but it was long before they let him 
handle a knife, and when they did, sharp eyes 
were upon him all the time. But they seemed 
mighty pleased when he turned out little stools 
and boxes, pegged together with wooden nails, 
or bits of hooper's work that would hold water. 
And as he began to be useful, so he got on 
famously with them and felt homelike. 

The child who had nursed him gave him to 
understand that her name was Raineach, that 
is Fern: and indeed she was not unlike the 
bracken when it is red in autumn, and she was 
slender and strong and wild as its tall fronds 
that smother up the hollows among the boulders 
on the moors. She was maybe a year or so 
younger than Thorstein, but as tall as he. 
Gartnaidh mac Tairneach, which is the Son of 
Thunder, was the name of her father, the giant 
as we may call him, for he was a head and 
shoulders taller than even a tall fellow among 
the Northmen, and far away bigger than the 
Welsh. Raineach was pleased when she found 
out Thorstein's name and what it meant in her 
talk; for it is as much as to say the Thunder- 
stone, because Thor is nothing else than the 
Thunder-god. "And so," said she, "We are 
brother and sister, for the Thunder-stone is the 


Thunder's child." And Thorstein by this time 
was little loath to have it so : and whenever his 
mind went to Greenodd it took Raineach there 
too, and he could see her in his dreams in their 
hall, sharing his trencher and cup, and friendly 
with Hundi, and tormented by Orm. So he 
put off the escape that sometimes he planned, 
until he might persuade her to run with him. 

But when at last he had words enough to 
open out his mind, and to tell her of his longing 
for home, she was astonished and grieved, and 
gave him to know that she thought him a very 
lucky lad to be living in such good company 
and so well off as he was. For many days she 
was cool with him and said little: which 
angered him, so that he would say nothing to 
her. Once when they were out with the goats 
together, and she was groping in a blackberry 
bush, a wild cat sprang straight out at her, like 
a shot from a sling: and fixed teeth and claws 
all together in her shoulder. Thorstein had 
the creature throttled in an instant, but great 
work it was to get it off, and to kill it, bang as 
he might with his thick stick. And then he 
got her home, and the women put herbs on the 
bite to take the poison out, and to stop the 
blood. So it was Thorstein's turn to be nurse 
for a while, and his sulkiness melted away : all 
the more that she gave a fine story of his 

Which when the giant heard, he said the 
little fellow was good enough now to go out 
with the men. And after that, for many a 

weary day and through many a terrible night, 
trotted he behind long-shanks and his lads by 
moor and mire, chasing the red deer and the 
roe, and snaring the fowl of wild-wood and 
water. And one while he got good words for 
his work ; and other whiles, for all he could do, 
it was nought but ill luck, and an empty belly, 
and hard blows to his back. But to such 
doings one hardens when limbs are young, and 
each time the weariness and the danger are 
forgotten. Hunger and cold, and rough com- 
panionship, and the squalor of the huts became 
too common to be feared any more. And as 
the months passed, the boy waxed and throve 
in the keen air of the fells. He grew cunning to 
track the slot, keen of eye and deft of hand, 
like any savage of them all : and Raineach was 
proud of her foster-brother. 

[HEN Thorstein had found his CHAPTER 
tongue and could talk to the XIX. THE 
fell-folk in their own speech, he THREE 
would often tell Raineach about TASKS. 
IGreenodd and his home. 

Sometimes in the winter 
weather, as they were crouching by the open- 
air fire in sleet and wind to dress their meals, 
or cowering in the foul huts from the storms 
that swept the moor, there would come before 
him, like a dream, the bonny eld-house and its 
beloved rafters, and the bright things gleaming 
on the wainscot, and the lasses in their neat 
kirtles a-spinning or a-sewing ; his mother with 
her needle, and his father with woodsmith's 
o 105 

tools, and all so cosy and well-to-do as they 
worked and sang in the warm fireshine. 

Then he would whisper to the giant's lass, 
as they huddled together in the muck, and the 
men growled or snored, for there was little 
to do in the winter up there but sleep it out 
like bears, and he would say, "Raineach, I see 
them, I see them ! There's our great dog asleep 
with his nose on the edge of the hearth, and 
father is kicking the logs together, and he pats 
the dog and says to mother, ' Where's poor old 
Stein now? I wonder if he's all right some- 
where, or tanning his hide in a cold peat-pit.' 
Mother shakes her head at Hundi and says, 
* Eh, lad, it was a bad day thou tookest him off: 
the elder should have been the wiser.' For I'll 
uphold it Hundi has led a hound's life ever 
since. But I can see mother working flowers 
on a kirtle, and she has been working at it every 
day this back-end : blue flowers, Raineach, and 
gold leaves on a brave red stuff: eh, if you saw 
what I see, you would see some bonny things 
and all. 

"And the chapmen will be coming about, 
with packs full of wares from all the round 
world, and they'll be feasting them. And at 
Yule, what doings! Pies, lass, as big as ant- 
hills : and butter to thy haver-bread, and honey 
in thy porridge: and laiks in the afternoons, 
when the tables are cleared and folk pull skins 
across the fire, and one side lets go and down 
they tumble : and one is blindfolded and hunts 
the others: and I'd show thee a safe place, 

Raineach, so that they could'nt catch thee. 
How thou'd laugh, and how they'd laugh : and 
how we'd sing and tell stories, and get eh, that 
frightened, and then mother would say ' Barns 
to bed,' and we'd pull the clothes over our 
heads while we heard their goings-on. Grand 
it would be if I could get thee there to peep in 
on them all." 

With such talk, Raineach, who had looked 
on Thorstein as a poor savage at first, came to 
feel a great longing to see what wonderful 
things might be yonder across the fells: and 
once even asked her father whether they could 
not pay a visit to Thorstein's folk at Greenodd. 
She said they would come back again, never 
fear: and maybe bring some of the things 
Thorstein told her of. Gartnaidh laughed at 
first ; then he growled, and shook his fist at the 
lad, and bade him say no more to the child. 
And for a good while they found it hard to 
come together : there was always something for 
her to do, and something for him elsewhere : 
and life was worse than before. 

At last when spring came, Thorstein plucked 
up his courage and said boldly that he wanted 
to go home. 

"Well, my little man," says the giant, "here 
we have nursed thee for a summer and a winter, 
and given our best: and what," says he, "shall 
we get for a parting gift ? for it is little we have 
got as yet." 

Thorstein said that his father would be sure 
to give something. 


"Nay," says the carle, "I know him and his 

Thorstein reddened and bit his lips. 

"Now," says the giant, "do this for me, and 
I'll let thee go: keep my cattle this twelve- 
month, and see them well served : but if one be 
missing thy head shall pay for it." 

So the lad became herdboy to the fell-folk : 
and well he knew his job, for he had been 
among the beasts at home, and was used to all 
that belonged to cattle. But these were well- 
nigh wild, and bad, bad to manage. Often 
they would break bounds, and give him a rough 
job to hunt them out of the mires and woods, 
where wolves might get them before ever they 
had time to be lost. And many a night it was 
only by the help of the lass that he could gather 
them together and drive them into the fold for 
the milking: and sometimes it seemed that an 
unfriendly hand would loose them, and give 
him a sad scare. But Raineach managed so 
that in a while the rest of the folk were ashamed 
or afraid to meddle. And they throve that 
summer, and after the slaughtering at the back 
end of it, Thorstein kept as many as would 
make up his count for the spring: and was 
diligent in serving them with everything he 
could lay hands on. So the end of it was that 
when winter was near spent he delivered over 
his full tale to the carle, and bade him farewell. 

" Not so fast, my little fellow," said the giant. 
"I reckon nought of this. Here are all my 
beasts again, no doubt: but what more? We 

are no better off than we were.' 1 

"What then?" cried the lad, aghast. 

"This," said the carle. "Seest yonder tarn? 
When it is as yellow with corn as it is blue 
to-day, we will talk more of this matter : but if 
I hear another word, it will be the word for 
knocking thy brains out with this club of 
mine." And he dashed about him with his 
great oaken cudgel in a way that was grewsome. 

So Thorstein was angry and mad angry ; and 
in his anger set himself to bale the water out of 
the tarn the giant had pointed to, one of a 
many there were in those days about the 
settlement, though now they are all peated up, 
without it be Pewit tarn. Then Raineach came 
and stood by; and when she saw the water 
trickling back into the pool, and the rain beating 
into it, and the sweat running off the lad's face, 
she laughed. He asked her what she was 
laughing at: and she said, "At thee." Then 
he threw at her the crock that he was baling 
with, and bad her begone for a heartless wretch. 
But she drew back, and it fell on a stone and 
was broken : at which she laughed the more. 
Then he sat down and wept. And she came to 
him in the rain and comforted him, and called 
him a fool, which is often the best comfort from 
one that can help. 

"Look," she said, "silly lad, how the water 
runs out of the broken pot. Break the tarn, 
and it will be dry." 

"Nay, I know that well enough," said he. 

"Well, do it," said she. 


"But how?" said he. 

Then she showed him that the rock ran in 
ridges, and that he might dig the earth away 
between the ridges and make a beck. So he 
dug the earth and made a beck : but still there 
was water in the tarn. 

"Who is the fool, now?" said he. 

"Not. I," said she: "throw upon the tarn all 
the earth out of the digging, and fill it up." 

Thorstein thought she was a clever lass, and 
threw all the stones he could find, and a deal of 
earth upon them into the tarn ; and if it was 
somewhat miry, it was no tarn any longer. 
But now he was let down for seed to sow : and 
beg as he might, they said they had but enough 
for themselves. Then after some days of bitter 
words and nights of useless thinking, came 
Raineach with a bag full of corn. She would 
not tell whence it came, but it was good seed 
corn : and Thorstein sowed it, and watched it 
morn and eve, and built a fence around to keep 
man and beast out of it. And glad he was 
when it showed above the brown earth, and 
fain when the ears began to turn yellow: and 
bade the giant see to it, and let him go forth- 
with. But all he got was a growl and a roar. 

"Where did that corn come from?" 

"Not from thee," says Thorstein. 

"Thief!" says the giant. 

" Liar ! " says Thorstein : and they were both 

as angry as they might be. But the giant 

would not kill him, and best knew the reason 

why. For he meant to keep the lad against 


a time when there should be trouble with the 
Northmen, and then give him over as a ransom. 
So he was in no hurry to let his prisoner go. 

"Look you here," says Gartnaidh at last: 
"those great firs yonder where the crows build, 
they must be cut down and made into a house 
for me, before ever I let thee go." 

"Ask another to do the job," said Thorstein. 

" Never another will I ask," said the giant: 
"folk that can make corn grow in tarns, can 
make firs into houses." 

So Thorstein toiled at one of the least of 
the trees with his knife and a litttle hatchet, the 
best he could find: but he could only notch it 
round, and it stood as straight as ever. Then 
Raineach came and laughed at him again, and 
bade him go to sleep till she helped him : but 
she would not say how or when. And in a 
while she disappeared altogether. 

One day when nobody was nigh, the men all 
away hunting, and Thorstein bewailing himself, 
he looked at the firwood from afar, and thought 
one of the tree tops shook more than the wind 
used to shake it. By and by it fell, and he 
heard a crash in the wood. He ran down to 
the spot, and there was a great tree on the 
ground, and chips of new-cut wood all about it : 
but never a soul to be seen. Then the lass 
came laughing, and saying it was magic, and 
the good folk would have none of his spying; 
and so she took him by the shoulders and 
pushed him out of the wood. Magic or no 
magic, she managed that on certain days the 


men were out early and home late, and none of 
them noticed [that the fir tops were gone : and 
Thorstein was hugely puzzled. At last he went 
to the 'spot by stealth, and saw strange men 
working there : they looked^like Welsh, and he 
guessed they might be from the brough across 
the flats. They had many of the trees down, 
and sawed, and squared into timbers, that men 
might carry on their shoulders. Raineach was 
not there ; but round the neck of the foreman of 
them, as it seemed, was her gold cross hanging. 
Then the lad^knew how she had helped him : 
and right proud he was of her and her favours, 
and told her as much. 

So when the winter was on them, one day 
comes Thorstein up with a plank on his 
shoulder, and "Where is thy house to stand?" 
says he to the giant. 

"What!" cries the giant, "who felled my 

" They are felled," says the lad. 

"Not by thee," says the giant. 

"That's neither" here nor there," says Thor- 
stein : "where is the house to stand?" 

The giant was not ill pleased to think he was 
to have a house like the Northmen, and so he 
let things be : and Raineach made the lads of 
the fell-folk help, in that they dragged up the 
big timbers right merrily, and Thorstein was 
master of the works. And if his building was 
not great nor very workmanlike, it was game to 
him when the studs were sunk in the ground, 
and beams hoisted and fixed with pegs, and 


rafters began to show the shape of the roof. 

And all this was done with the tools left in the 

wood by the strangers, of whom nothing could 

be heard. Most folk said it was fairies. 

JEFORE the building was done CHAPTER 
that is to say in the early spring XX. OVER 
when Thorstein had been now THE FELLS, 
three winters among the red 
folk, there was once more 
(rumour of war throughout all 

the north, and the sound of it came even to 

these wildernesses, so far as they were apart 

from the dwellings and intercourse of men. 

For Gartnaidh the giant, being in this respect 

like Swein Biornson, was a borderer and a 

dweller on no man's land, that is to say he had 

no laws nor kings over him, and was bound to 

no government of lawmakers. And yet he was 

akin to other Gaels dwelling up and down these 

parts : who, though they were at ancient feud 

with their Welsh neighbours, yet could let 

sleeping dogs lie when it served their turn, and 

play at give and take, or even do good work for 

Owain the king of Cumbria. For since these 

hardy hunters and fell runners knew the 

lie of the land better than settled ploughmen or 

towns-folk, in many ways they were useful, as 

in guiding the Northmen to Dacor, and in 

spying upon them often, when little they knew 

what eyes were gleaming through the green 

leafage. Add to this that Gartnaidh and his 

like found the king's service not unprofitable ; 

and poor folk must live, however proud they be, 
P 113 

So when war was talked of, the news came 
to their ears somehow, handed on from one 
to another of the woodlanders, or picked up at 
market ; for there were times when they came 
in to sell their furs to the Welsh or Anglians at 
burgs and trading places on the outskirts of the 
mountains, as at Broughton or Ravenglass, 
Cartmel or Bowness. 

This time it seemed certain that the north 
was going to rise against the south in good 
earnest. Constantine and Olaf Cuaran, Owain 
and the new Dublin king Olaf Guthferthson 
had made common cause. Says the giant to 
Thorstein, "Thy folk will be gathering at their 
meeting-place in the mountains, and that is 
hard by our meeting-place too. Thither I am 
going, and if thou hast a mind to see thy 

"Say no more," cried Thorstein: and they 
made ready for the journey. 

In those days, to one who knew the country, 
the best roads were not always the high-roads, 
but the tops and ridges of the fells. The 
valleys were all umbered up with trees, or 
choked with swamps ; and what with wild 
beasts and what with wild folk, travelling was 
no child's play. But in the waste wildernesses 
of high moorland, on the tall rock-ranges that 
joined peak to peak like bridges in the air, 
foe in shape of mankind was hardly to be 
found. It was rough work over snow in winter 
and through moss and mire in summer-time, 
and a stranger would easily be lost and never 

seen again : but these hunters were at home 
anywhere between Skiddaw and Blackcomb. 

Gartnaidh the giant, with Thorstein and a 
few of the lads that followed him, were not far 
on their way, when there was a stir in the 
woods behind them, and presently through the 
coppice came a slim running figure, in brogues 
and tightly knit plaid and deer skin, and a 
great bush of red hair streaming behind. 

"How now, Raineach?" says the giant: 
"what folly is this? We want no wenches on 
this journey." 

With that she pouted, and when he bade her 
turn back, she began to weep, and sat down on 
a stone to lament. Thorstein was vexed to see 
her cry, and would have stayed by her to 
comfort her: for indeed it had been a sore 
parting but a little while before. Then the 
giant took him by the elbow and shoved him 
along the road, telling him not to be a fool, or 
never a sight of his father would he get. 

Well, they went along for a space : and as 
they climbed one height of the many on that 
moorland around what we call Beacon tarn, 
where the lad used to fish with the lass : and 
while he was thinking that after all they were 
happy days he was leaving behind: just then, 
one of them cried out that there was a stir again 
in the birch boughs on the height they had left : 
and a red spot flitted over the heather from 
cover to cover. Gartnaidh bade the man shoot 
an arrow to scare their follower : and the man 
shot, but took good care to aim wide. 

They pushed on, until they were out of their 
own grounds, so to say, and nearing the houses 
of Coniston. For even in those days there was 
some habitation by the beck that leads down 
from the copper-mines. They say that even in 
the time of the Romans mining had been done 
thereabouts, when the old roads were open, 
and the country, since fallen into waste, was 
more populous. The name of the village, 
which is as much as to say King's-town, 
signifies perhaps that the York kings had 
officers there to take royalty and dues from 
those mines: as perhaps at Conishead king's 
men took toll from the ironworks of Pennington 
and the traffic by the old road of Furness : all 
such metal-works paid tax to the king in 
ancient times. But in the time of our story, 
whatever ancient doings may have been at 
Coniston, were already of the past : the people 
who then remained were but few and rude, the 
children of fathers who had seen brighter days. 
Yet were they better off than the fell-folk in the 
high grounds, of whom scattered families lived 
here and there in many a spot on the moors. 

As the travellers came towards the place, 
along the brow between Banniside and the 
lake, there was a shout in the rear, and a 
scream, which they could not but understand. 
So they ran back on their traces, and soon saw 
Raineach fighting and kicking in the grip of a 
rough fellow, who made off when he saw the 
big men. It was little use to scold her, and 
too late to carry her back home. Gartnaidh 

said no more when she came up with them, 
and only strode on with his best foot foremost, 
so that it was all she could do to trot after and 
keep in sight, for many a weary hour. 

From Coniston they slanted up great crags 
by a narrow pathway until they got to the top 
of the high waterfall we call the White Lady, 
because she comes and goes like a wraith. 
Thence they found their way over the bogs 
to Wetherlam cove and the head of the great 
gill that runs down into Yewdale, Wolfdale 
the Northmen called it, as it seems by its old 
name of Ulldale; and a terrible wild place it 
would have been in those times. Then away 
they went up and down over the rough fells, 
until they found lodging for the night in a lone 
dell Langdale-way, with some kindred fell-folk 
who had their huts there. The children were 
right glad to rest their swollen and battered 
feet on a heather-heap all night, whether asleep 
or awake, while the men talked loud round the 

The morning it was up and away over wilder 
ground than ever, climbing by the ledges of 
rock to the bogs that make as it were a 
thatched roof above the walls of those great 
mountain houses, whose streets are the dales, 
and whose gables are the peaks. All day long 
it was wading work through the mosses, or 
clambering over the screes, up and down long 
slopes that seemed in the passing clouds and 
showers to lead nowhither but into the rain and 
the mist. In the afternoon they were aware of 

a great valley beneath them. They had come 
so to say to the eaves of the house of mountains 
and yet could not look over, nor see what was 
going on below. But they were above the dale 
through which the great Roman road goes, 
where lies the city of Helvellyn and the lake of 
Thirlmere and the Northmen's Law-burg- 

At the city of Helvellyn, as Gartnaidh 
reckoned, there would be some force posted to 
defend the border and the main road to the 
south, for it would be a likely point of attack. 
With this point guarded, and the coast road, 
and the Maiden way that comes through the 
Westmorland fells, king Owain would be safe, 
and free to throw his whole power upon York 
by the great way over the Keel. And it was 
thought that the king himself might soon be 
there, to speak about the defences with the 
people of the place, and with the Northmen 
whose Althing would soon be held hard by. 

But Gartnaidh had no mind to put his 
daughter in the way of O wain's soldiers, any 
more than to leave her in the clutches of the 
ruffian on Banniside: neither would he give 
Thorstein the chance of getting away before his 
time. So he avoided the Welsh burg at 
Wythburn, the city of which we spoke, and led 
them down upon a dwelling of his kindred, 
such as dwelt here along the brink overlooking 
Thirlmere, on the Benn as we still call it in 
their language, the great mountain between 
Armboth and Thirlmere water-foot. . 


[OWN came they through the CHAPTER 
bracken, which was just be- XXI. 
ginning to shoot among the ALUINN. 
boulders of the moor, and 
were stopped by a group of 
[men who seemed to have 
sprung out of the ground; and indeed for 
colour and rough aspect they seemed to be 
part and parcel of it, as paddocks match mud 
and caterpillars mimic twigs of trees. A shout 
in the fell-folk's tongue put all to rights 
without fighting; and then they saw two low 
houses on the slope of the moor, built of great 
stones and roofed over with peat. They passed 
by these to the head of a gill that ran sharp 
down between cut rocks, and then they found 
more of these houses, all low and foursquare in 
the plan, better built than the Heathwaite 
dwellings, but squalid enough. There were 
people about, who welcomed them when they 
knew who the visitors were, and came out of 
the huts, unkempt and fierce as Gartnaidh's 
folk, and yet as proud as he in their mountain 

It was built on a nab between two ravines, 
and the only path ran steeply down to the wath 
across Thirlmere. From this spot one could 
see the length of the lake and all its rugged 
shores, cleft into scars and steeps, and whatever 
was not rock or water was trees. Over against 
them was the great wall of Helvellyn, rising 
high, and seemingly sheer and unattainable in 
the clouds of heaven. Such steepness and 


such dizzy terror of falling the children had 
never known, as when they came to the utmost 
of the houses, which stood on the axle of the 
nab, where on either hand and in front the 
ground fell suddenly away, as when one stands 
on a high tower, and men are like mice 

underneath one's feet. A woman kept house 
in this place, not old, but no longer young; 
tall, and sinewy in her arms, with beautiful 
fair hair : but a harsh face, and a harsh voice. 
She welcomed Gartnaidh, and said little to the 
children, but did them no harm, and gave them 
a better supper than they were used to have 
on Heathwaite fell. For though the cot was 

rude, she seemed to have plenty, and there 
were neighbours, and the road was below, by 
which a sort of marketing could now and then 
be done if one had the means; whereas at 
Raineach's home neither love nor money 
could get what was never there to be got. 

When they had eaten, out they crept as 
children do, to see the new place they had 
come to : and looked over the brink into the 
gill with its soft moss and purple butterwort 
cushioning all the rough hard rocks, and sweet- 
fern fringing the fountains that sprayed into 
dimpling basins among the stone, or slid down 
black slopes under a roof of silky-barked birch 

Q 121 

and white-flowering rowan. Here and there 
ancient gnarled hawthorn-trees clung to the 
crags: one especially was thick with may- 
blossom, as if it were loaded with snow: its 
rich almond scent hung about the place, coming 
and going like a breath. 

The children scrambled down the steep side 
to get at its boughs from above, for it grew 
close to the slope, like a flower in a girl's 
bosom. But when they broke a hole as it were 
in the white thatch, what should they see but 
the loveliest lady in the world sitting among 
the twisted boughs, and the finest prince in the 
world, as it seemed to them, standing below, 
and reaching out his arms to her, and speaking 
passionately, with his eyes afire and bonny 
smooth cheeks aglow. But when he saw the 
strange little faces thrust through the blossom- 
roof, with wide opened mouths and staring eyes 
like goblins, he slid away with a start, down 
the forest slope, like a snake in the whins, so 
that they could just see the flash of his mail 
and the glint of red and blue in the leafage as 
he disappeared. And when they looked again 
for the lovely lady, she was gone. 

They were too astonished to say a word, but 
Thorstein held Raineach's hand, and they 
climbed back to the cot, and crept in, bidden 
to sleep by the woman of the place. It was 
not long before something bright was at the 
door; and in came the lovely lady they had 
seen, with grey eyes wide open as if she saw 
wonders, and a smile that stirred their heart- 

strings, and all her golden hair flaming about 
her green gown. 

The woman they could only be mother and 
daughter looked at her quickly ; and looked at 
her again: and even Gartnaidh, who had not 
yet gone away, bent his brows upon her in 
amazement. Then he made one of those 
clumsy reverences of his, for he had at whiles 
a sort of half forgotten courtesy about him, 
like a man who has seen better days. "So 
this is thy lovely daughter," said he. " When 
I saw Elphin map Rhydderch, the worthy lord 
warden of the march, roll in the dust, little 
did I think what sweet flower would have 
sprung from such a dunghill." 

"Peace," said the woman. "And thou, 
Aluinn, what news?" 

"News?" said the beautiful girl. "Grand 
news! Nay, what news should there be?" 

"Fool," said the mother. "Greet thy 
kinsman Gartnaidh mac Tairneach Famhair 
(that is, the giant) and give word of thine 

She kissed the big red man on the beard, 
and stood thinking : and said "Ah, the king's 
men have come, if that be all." 

"Well?" said her mother and Gartnaidh. 

"Oh, a good troop; maybe three score, 
maybe six score. I forget." 

"And the king?" 

"Oh, aye, the king, I suppose, and the 
young king, I suppose: and all as it should be. 
But oh mother, the hawthorn is sweet to-night, 


and the birds are wild with their singing, and I 
was fain to bide out in the gill. It was bad of 
me, for I should have been here serving the 
company. Is our good kinsman suppered? 
Where are his folk? What can I do to help 
thee?" and she began as if to busy herself 
with the housekeeping. 

"Peace, child," said the mother. "Gart- 
naidh mac Tairneach is served, and for his 
folk, they are bestowed. Two of them,^hush, 
they are asleep." 

But Thorstein and Raineach, vaguely be- 
thinking them of manners little learned on 
Heathwaite fell, sat up on the heather heap in 
the corner which was their bed, Aluinn started 
at the two goblin faces, the red head and the 
tow head, unkempt and uncouth, rising in the 
dark corner: and she screamed and laughed 

"What's to do with the silly thing now?" 
cried the woman, and shook her : but all she 
got was a flood of tears. 

Gartnaidh was mightily aggrieved that his 
children should be taken for goblins, and all 
manner of talk was held, as Aluinn came to 
her right mind : and said she was sick, and lay 
down in her bed. And so they all rested, 
uneasily enough, for that night. 

In the morning she was quite another lass, 
and chattering like a jay. Raineach her young 
kinswoman was made much of, and if she 
stared shyly at the wonderful beauty for half a 
day, she was won over into companionship by 


the afternoon. The lad was ill at ease: he 
could not tell why, though nobody spoke him 
aught but fair. Gartnaidh was away to the 
king's army: and now and again there were 
sounds of stirring below, as if horns were blown 
far down through the forest, and men shouted. 

Thorstein moped about, staring at the great 
mountains half hidden by rain and mist, while 
the two lasses foregathered. He came in and 
helped his hostess with her tasks, but she 
looked at him askance. He had never felt 
more a stranger, even in his first days among 
the fell-folk. At bed-time, the beautiful Aluinn 
turned to him and waved her hand. " Lads lie 
there : " she said. " Raineach is my bed-fellow." 

Thorstein crept into the place she pointed 
at. It was a little tiny shed at the end of the 
hut : a sort of kist of stone walling, just high 
enough to crawl into, and long enough to lie in : 
a dog-kennel or fowl-house it might have been. 
But the heather was soft within, and he crept 
out and gathered more, and piled it around 

Early in the morning he was awakened. 
Raineach's face was at his feet, peeping in 
through the door-hole. "Heigh!" she said, 
whispering loud and eagerly. "Thorstein, 
listen ! I know it all. The bonny man is the 
king's son. Wake, Thorstein! Aluinn wears 
his gold collar round her neck: I saw it when 
she doffed her clothes. And she gave him her 
ring. Thou wilt give me a gold collar, 
Thorstein? Wake up, lad! And thy father 




killed her father, think of that! He was a 
wicked man, and they were glad. But Domh- 
naill is a lovely man. And if thy father hadn't 
killed her father, she would be a lady at the 
Castle down there. Domhnaill is the king's 
son, Thorstein: and Aluinn will be queen, 
Thorstein. Oh poor Thorstein, they said thou 
wast a wolf's cub : but I said nay. Now, thou 
must have a red coat, and I would have thine 
eyes shine like " 

"Go away ! " growled the lad from his lair. 

OW all this while Thorstein 
was eager for a sight of his 
father: why else was he here? 
And all the more because his 
heart was sore against Raineach 
who could so lightly leave him 
for her fine friend. He bethought him, little as 
he knew of love-making, that he must cap yon 
glittering Welshman, or else be cast off as a 
good-for-nought and a lout. There was only 
one way of doing this: namely to get back 
among his own people, and let it be seen what 
like they were, and what like was he when his 
hand was in its glove again. 

Over yonder he knew was the Althing-stead, 
somewhere across the water. Run he could 
and swim : why not away ? So he slipped off 
and slid down the gill, steep and steeper down 
the great crags beneath the fell-folk's houses, 
and buried deep and dark in trees that covered 
the brink on both hands with well-nigh 
impassable thickets. Down the cliff he went, 

holding by tuft and ledge, and at last let 
himself go, sliding down the scree with a fall 
that brought him to the water's edge. 

It was a black basin of rock into which the 
white foam tumbled through the ferns, a secret 
place among rowan and hawthorn. In the 
splashing water lay great rocks, some as it 
were bits of carven pillars six sided, and others 
whose fragments were bright with red and 
green colours, and curiously inlaid with patterns 
of white and black that looked like lace work. 
They seemed to be the precious stones folk 
put in rings and brooches, only larger and 
more precious in every way. He picked them 
out of the water, and broke them smaller to get 
the glowing bits out, thinking what fine 
jewellery he had lit upon: there would be 
enough for more than Raineach could wear, 
aye, and for every one he knew: and maybe 
gold might be found where jewels were, if he 
could but light upon it. 

He hunted stones up and down the gill until 
he was wearied, not to say bruised and bleeding 
with his scrambling among the sharp rocks and 
with many a fall in dub and force : so he lay 
down, wet as he was, beside his heaped 
treasure, and slept. But when he awoke, the 
bright colours on the stones had all faded: 
they shone only while they were lying in the 
water, and against the black and grey of the 
wild rocks in the gill. The white hawthorn 
and the purple butterwort were brighter by far, 
and faded not so soon as the fairy colours of 


these stones. 

Then he bethought him to explore the gill 
and find his way down to the lake : for every 
beck comes to dale at last. But this was no 
beck like the streams of the low r er moorlands. 
It was all fierce forces with rocks on cither 
hand, and when the ground was ever so little 
passable the trees had got a hold of it, and 
hedged it up. And yet he won down, and 
lighted upon the road that led to the wath. 
Then came folk. Thorstein went back into 
the wood, for he dared not risk being seen in 
broad daylight. He forced his way up the 
brow of the fell aslant through the trees, and 
struck a path that brought him to the houses 

So the long day wore, and the gloaming 
came late as it does in Lakeland in mid-summer : 
but it came: and the lasses were abroad, and 
the woman throng with her house-keeping in 
the cot. He slipped away down the gill again 
and found the big road, and stood awhile 
wondering whether he should swim the lake or 
go boldly by the general fording-place. Then 
there was a noise of horses and men. He 
climbed a hammer, a jutting rock that overhung 
the road, and lay down flat upon it to see and 
not be seen. 

The troop of way-farers came on in silence, 
as wearied men who had travelled far between 
morning and this late twilight-time, on wearied 
beasts, ponies we should call them rather 
than horses : for the nags they rode in those 

days were tiny compared with the great 
chargers of the knights in after ages. It was 
grey mirk by now, and only when they came 
close beneath him did Thorstein know them for 
Northmen. But even so their mailcoats and 
their fighting helms of iron, with great leather 
flaps, disguised them. He crept nearer to the 
edge to look over. A stone fell from under him 
and one of them passing beneath looked up 
sharply. " Father, father ! " cried the lad ; but 
at that very instant was gripped from behind, 
and throttled fiercely, and dragged up into the 
wood: with two great hands round his neck, 
and a knee in his back to hold him down, quick 
or dead. 

Beneath, upon the road, there was a scurrying 
to and fro, as Swein Biornson swore it was his 
lad's voice, and he would know it anywhere. 

"Nay, man, it was but an owl," said some: 
and others upheld that it was some trick to 
draw them into ambushment : or maybe a troll 
of that hag-ridden wilderness. Swein climbed 
the hammer, where nothing was to be seen or 
heard, but the roar of the beck in the gill, and 
a grisly groaning in the wood, that might be 
wind in the trees, or wood-sprites, or what not. 
So they went forward, none the slower for this 
adventure: and the sound of them died in 
distant pattering. 

"Ha, my little wolf-cub," said the giant 

Gartnaidh, loosing his grip of Thorstein's 

throat: "so thou hast eyes for thy father, and 

none for thy foster-father. Well, what was my 

R 129 




promise? That thou shouldst see him: arid 
thou hast seen him. Good: we art quits. Now 
no more straying of nights, dog. Get to thy 
kennel." And he drove him through the 
woods with many a stripe, and kicked him into 
his lair, and rolled a big stone against the hole 
of it. 

O there we leave Thorstein to 
bite his hands and weep for 
that slip between cup and lip, 
the bitterest he had known. 
Gartnaidh came into the cot, 

^ _and what should he see but 

Raineach, giggling and wide-eyed over a 
silken scarf that a gay spark, he knew him well, 
was tying round her bare shoulders : and the 
house-mistress smiling and becking and bowing 
like a fool. Aluinn was not there: but they 
seemed merry, and the wild lass looked quite 
bonny in the firelight. 

"What, goodfellow giant!" said Domh- 
naill, with somewhat shame-faced bravery, as 
Gartnaidh scowled in at them; "here we are 
all as merry as hares by moonlight ; and upon 
my honour, I make my best bow to the father 
of such a bright little thing." 

"See;, what he has given me," said Raineach 
with childish pride. 

"She'll be back before long," said the 
mother. " I warrant, now I know of it, Aluinn 
just slipped away to look for somebody. But 
take something, sir. It's little we fell-folk 
have to offer the likes of you : though fair's the 

day that brought you : and it's a poor place for 
a king's son, though the last drop of Roman 
blood juns in the veins of our Aluinn." 

"It's the sweetest spot in the world, mother" 
said Domhnaill: "and no finer greeting can I 
give you when we take our Aluinn to court, 
and all the lords of the land have to bow down 
before her." 

Then Aluinn burst in, breathless and haggard 
and panting. She flew at her lover and held 
him tight, taking no heed of them all. 

"What now?" cried they, and the young 
man unwound her arms from his neck, and 
held her off a little. 

They learnt bit by bit that she had strayed 
out to look for him, and away on the road 
toward the wath. She had hidden while a 
troop of men rode past, Northmen they would 
be, going to their meeting place. She had 
heard them splash over the ford, and then it 
was dark and she turned homewards. But 
suddenly she saw a light, as if some wayfarer 
were camping in the wood by the lake-side. It 
brightened and spread, until she thought the 
forest was on fire. But no sound of crackling 
branches or hissing flame could she hear. The 
blaze grew broader : sparks flew on high, and 
all round 'it seemed one great flickering. Then 
she was terrified and fled by the well-known 
wood-paths, daring no more to look behind 

The men went out to a little spying-place on 
the uttermost brink of the nab, but fire there 

was none. The glow of the Northmen's 
Thing-stead was hidden behind Great Howe, 
and the Welsh city was away beyond the 

"Why, pretty one," said Domhnaill, coming 
in, "what fancies are these? The heather's afire 
I know, for all the country is up: but that is 
the only blaze, and black night it is between 
here and Helvellyn." 

"But I saw it," said the lass shuddering. 

"It was only a glint of moonshine: come, 
little silly, let us be merry again." 

"Nay," said her mother thoughtfully, and 
stood up, tall and strange. " She saw it. I 
have seen it. Twice before I have seen it, and 
well I know the sight. Once for death : and 
again for death : and the third time." 

"Come, good mother," said Domhnaill, 
"never seek to scare us. King's sons and 
queens that are to be, give no heed to old 
wives' soothsayings. Aluinn, smile now, and 
drink. It will do thee good, and me too." 

" Peace, young man," said the mother. " Are 
not all thy men now bound for battle, and 
unappeasable war with the great king? Which 
of them all, think'st thou, which of them that 
drink to-night and shout drunkenly round their 
fires, will come unscathed out of the fire of the 
fight, to march hitherward again in triumph to 
the homes of their fathers and their children ? 
Nay, I tell you, not a man of them all. And 
which of them will lie in agony on the desolate 
heath far away in Saxon-land, till the ravens 

pluck out their eyes, and the wolves tear their 
hearts out of the riven harness? Aye, by that 
token, many and many a one. I see them there, 
the proudest, the mightiest, the bravest: I see 
them in their blood: and I see the handful 
that flee over heath and hill, in their shame and 
their sorrow, terror-stricken before the sword 
of England and trembling beneath the spear 
of the stranger, fleeing to their lairs in the 
mountains and to all the wild-wood fastnesses: 
and I hear the wail of the mourner, and the 
scream of the captive, and the curse of the 
mother that bore the coward and the coward's 

"Ah, my life, go not out to this battle," 
cried Aluinn, clinging to him. "Stay by us in 
peace : and if evil must come, let it roll over 
thy head, lying hidden here in safety." 

"What!" said Domhnaill, "shirk the play 
for a girl's vision and a woman's fears? " 

"King," said Gartnaidh, "for thou, lord, 
may's! be king before this moon has waned, 
these are no idle counsels. A brave heart is 
the praise of youth, but a seeing eye is the 
glory of a king. Hear me. Gartnaidh mac 
Tairneach is no coward, but he is old : and life 
is good to him in the woods : is it not good to 
thee in the city and in the court ? And if blood 
must be shed, why should the blood of father 
and son redden one field together ? Stay by us 
here, and claim from king Owain the warden- 
ship of these marches. It is a post of honour. 
And so we shall keep the seed corn while we 


spend the reapings of the harvest." 

Thus they talked until morning, and it was 
resolved that Domhnaill, nothing loath, for the 
sake of Aluinn if not to save his own skin, 
should withhold himself from the battle. 
Gartnaidh, because he knew the land, and was 
cunning as a spy, got the ear of King Owain 
next day; and saying nothing of the vision, 
bade the king go in peace, and begged that 
Domhnaill might be left with the defenders of 
the border, to keep them in heart, and to be 
king of the land in his father's room, to do 
justice upon the upstarts and peacebreakers, 
who always showed their heads when the king's 
back is turned. Such advice was held to be 
good, and the army went on its way to fight 

Athelstan at Brunanburg. 
f T~f A PT "P "R ^ssM*^^^ 

XXIV THE ^^^^VA-^ILEAN gone were the Welsh- 

r T A XTTC men at l ast > and the Northmen 

GIANTS them; and then came 

CASTLE. Ik,-'- ^SSilSI ~ .,, , 

Gartnaidh and dragged poor 

'Thorstein out of his lair, where 
he had lain a night and a day 
with little ease: and took his daughter with 
them : and over the mosses they travelled, no 
long way, to the stronghold where the fell-folk 
were used to retire in times of war and trouble. 
All along the Benn their houses were scattered, 
but on the side away from Thirlmere there 
is a deep valley. No wilder might be in any 
part, and scarcely in any land inhabited, than 
this that opens at Shoulthwaite. On either 
side high cliffs, brant and broken, rise above 

the sheets of ruin, which fall from them among 
scanty leafage of battered forest-trees. In one 
place the crags frown over the gill as they frown 
nowhere else in our fells, overhanging their 
bases, as if they would topple down with a 
breath. The gill is steep and rocky ; the chasm 
that cleaves its sides, one long waterfall from 
top to bottom, coming down from the high 
moors and desolate bogs to the low-lying 
valley and inhabited plain between the Benn 
and Blencathra. 

There in the midst of this trough runs out a 
tongue of land, steep on either side : and the 
tip of it rises abrupt into a tall rocky island, 
precipitous all round, and approachable only 
by a narrow neck that joins it to the mountain. 

Across this neck great trenches had been dug 
in ancient times, deep and wide, and curving 
round the castle rock, like the new moon lying 
about the old. So huge they are that they 
remain there to this day. And if the first is 
climbed there is the second; and if the second 
is climbed there is the third, twice as high; 
and no way to circumvent it or avoid it if one 
would get up to the stronghold in the midst. 
And then there is the hollow in the rock where 
a few houses might be built, as the forecourt of 
the castle or its outer bailey, defended on two 
sides by the sheer precipice, and on the third 
by the trenches : but on the fourth side rises 
still higher the uttermost rock, a sheer tower 
unapproachable save by a narrow path like a 
ledge in the side of it, so that one only at once 


can enter; and one man above with a good 
spear could easily defend it, thrusting each new 
comer over in turn, and down into the gulf 
below, like sheep one by one thrust into the 
pool at a sheep-washing. Then on the very 
top is a plain place, a rocky platform, whence 

the eye searches all that valley and views the 
great vale and the roads below, and Blencathra 
and Skiddaw rising beyond them, and the 
mountain tops of Helvellyn above the nearer 
crags, and Ullscarf over the moor. By a steep 
path one could come upon the road leading 
from Thirlmere out to the plain and round to 
the old Roman fort at the foot of Derwentwater : 
and from spying-places could be watched 
everything that passed, and all that was doing 
below. So that this was the safest place for 
refuge, and the most dangerous to the neigh- 
bourhood that could be found: a stronghold 


seemingly impregnable before the days of 
gunshot, and still among the wonders of 

Here it was, our story says, that Gartnaidh 
kept ward on the passes with his men, and 
held Thorstein in a prison from which there 
was little escape. But so long as Raineach 
was there, life was not bitter nor unbearable : 
for she was all the world to him now. 

And yet there was little to give them pleasure 
in the horrible black rocks and roaring gill, and 
the loneliness and deathliness of all around. 
Gartnaidh came and went with his men, never 
leaving the place without a guard upon the 
gateway, so that none might go out or come in. 
And indeed, what with wild beasts and the 
terrible country round about, to say nothing of 
a time of war when every kind of evil-doer is 
abroad, there was little to tempt them forth, so 
long as they had a roof over their heads, if it 
were no better than a pighull; and a wall 
between them and the world, even though it 
were a prison-wall. 

The summer sultriness thickened day upon 
day, until Blencathra was but a film of grey, 
hung like a cobweb in the sky : and the beck 
began to dwindle, and its roar died into a 
murmur beneath the bulwarks of the hold. 
Then followed the stillness and the heaviness 
that makes one weary in the hour before a 
storm bursts. But if the sky was threatening 
and if the air was full of dread, in their hearts 
was a still greater unease while they waited 

s 137 

evening after evening for the news that must 
by now be on its way to them, the fulfilment 
of Aluinn's sight-seeing and the sooth-saying of 
her mother, 

One night the men came back and called for 
drink; and Raineach brought them what mead 
there was, and a jar of strong waters. Gart- 
naidh drank and bid Thorstein out of his sight. 
The lad crept into one of the ruined chambers, 
low bields they were, like dog-kennels against 
the wall, in the lap, so to say, of that Castle- 
crag: and he lay there long, waiting for the 
thunder to begin. But all he heard was the 
sound of loud voices, and furious talking, and 
Raineach's shrill tongue scolding, begging, 
threatening; and at last a smothered scream, 
as if some evil had happened. His heart went 
quite cold, and he crept out to die with her. 
She was there beside him, sobbing and 
shuddering: but she put her hand upon his 
mouth, and drew him into the chamber. 

"He has beaten me," she whispered: "and 
he will kill thee. He says the wolf-cub is a 
burden, now the wolves are slaughtered. And 
he will kill me too, if I stand in his way. He 
is wild. Oh, Thorstein, listen ! he is coming! " 

There were shuffling footsteps without : the 
giant, drunken with strong drink, was groping 
towards them in the darkness. His hand 
pressed the broken thatch of the shed where 
they lay, and the underside of it cracked away 
and dropped on them. But he could not find 
the door* After a while he growled and 

muttered, and sank into slumber. 

"Thorstein," said she, "let us away while he 

sleeps. Oh save me, lad, and save thyself out 

of this den!" 

Then Thorstein, terrified as he was, tried to 

soothe her : and in a while the quietness gave 

them courage to look forth. 

AWN was at hand, and things CHAPTER 
began to loom through the XXV HOW 
blackness of mirk night. Gart- THEY 
naidh snored on where he fell; pi jrr) 
but the gate-guards lay in their 
places, whether sleeping or 

waking the children could not know ; and none 

could open the gate without stirring them. 
Thorstein looked over the bulwarks and 

down into the gill. Black it was down yonder ; 

and even the waterfall, into which he was used 

to throw stones for pastime, on the fell-side 

over against them, had dwindled so that the 

white of it hardly showed. Beneath him the 

rock went sheer down for a space ; and under- 
neath, he knew that there were tufts of heather 

and saplings growing out of the scree-side that 

sloped from the crag. He stole breathless to 

one of the chambers where some little store of 

bedding and apparel lay, and brought out a 

bundle of girdlethongs and such like, and began 

to tie them into a line. But they were scantly 

enough to loop round a big stone, and to reach 

thence to the wall edge and a very little way 

overboard. He went back for an armful of 

skins: but how to rip them up into thongs 


without a knife? 

Then Raineach crept up to the giant, and 
loosed his sword in the sheath: and as she rattled 
it, he gave a great groan : and she let go. But 
he sank into sleep again, and she drew it out. 
They cut the skins into strips, and knotted 
their line in haste, with trembling hands, and 
threw it over the wall. 

Raineach sat on the edge, and clinging tight 
to the line, slid down hand under hand, fending 
herself off the crag with her feet, until they 
touched the rough scree-slope. Down came 
Thorstein, with the giant's sword thrust naked 
through his girdle behind. Her heart beat lest 
the line should break, or the stones come away 
from the wall-coping upon them both: but at 
last he stood beside her, and they stumbled 
down the long slide of ruin to the gill. There 
was just light enough for them to cross it 
without being carried down the stream; and 
they scrambled up the other side on the grassy 
bank of the waterfall as steep as a hill-side can 
be, all under those terrible hanging crags, in 
the glimmering dawn and the thunder-mist. 

Then there was a roar and a crash, and 
splinters of stone flew about them. They saw 
the giant's head over the bulwarks against the 
sky, and his long arms whirling as he took aim 
at them again. She screamed and they ran 
up-bank on hands and knees while the stones 
flew, and the curses and threats with them. 
But they never looked behind again until they 
were a good step out of the deepest of the 

ravine, and well up towards the moor, where 
the ground was not so dangerously steep ; none 
the worse yet except for cutting their shins on 
the scree, and tearing their faces in the black- 
thorn bushes. 

They stopped for breath, and a last sight of 
their prison : but they stopped only a moment, 
for the gate was opened and folk were running 
after them in the grey mist across the tongue of 
land. So they plunged into the birches and 
the bogs, and crept through the underwood, 
and waded through the tottermoss, startling 
the hag-worms beneath and the wild fowl 
above, as they beat their way up and ahead, 
hoping only to be lost and out of sight. 

Then they came to a high ridge, with piked 
rocks standing on it, from which they could see 
that their homeward course was plain, over a 
great swamp and a bleak tarn, and along the 
green mountains beyond it. But from their 
rock they could trace the giant not so far 
behind, making his way through the wood, 
which was harder for him to force than for the 
lithe light bodies that could slip between its 
boughs, and over its half-dried, cracking mire- 
holes in which his bulk and weight stuck and 
sank continually. And yet he went at it with 
main strength, swinging his club and hewing a 

Down from their peak they flitted, and up he 
came from the other side, shadowy against the 
lurid sunrise. With a shout he strode over the 
edge, taking great steps against the sky, while 


they were lost in the maze of oozy rills, too 
broad for them to jump, and too deep and too 
treacherous to wade. While they looked wildly 
for their crossings, he leapt the ditches and 
gained on them, until at last he whirled his 
club round his head, and it flew hurtling 
through the air. They fell flat in the mire, and 
it skimmed close over them. Then they 
struggled to their feet and ran neck and neck 
for Blea tarn. Thorstein plunged in, dragging 
her after him, and struck out for the other side, 
sorely weighed down by her head on his 
shoulder, and well nigh choked by her grip 
round his neck; for 'she was no swimmer, and 
gasped and struggled in the black water. He 
landed her, though, upon a shoal, and up the 
bank they fled, on firmer ground now, and with 
a clear way before them and treeless, over 
stones and grass, forward and upward to 

But a terrible roar came up from the tarn ; 
and they looked back, and saw the giant near 
the middle of it, fighting with the black water, 
and lashing it into foaming waves that circled 
and spread until all the mere was in a turmoil. 
And then his head went under: but he rose 
again, flapping and battling like a wounded 
heron. Then he sank again, and once more 
came to the surface, drifting like a log in an 
eddy. And then the water closed over him, 
black and calm, and the pattern of the mountain 
tops began to take shape where he had been. 
The children stood fixed to the spot. A stream 

of bubbles rose, and burst ; and the reflections 
joined again. Raineach turned suddenly on 
Thorstein and dealt him a blow that felled him 
to the ground: she burst into a passion of 
weeping, as she flung herself beside him. 
"Thou hast killed my father," she wailed: "I 
hate thee, I hate thee!" 

Thorstein was in no mood to say good or 
bad to her, so utterly weary was he : least of 
all to make love-speeches. He lay awhile, and 
the tarn-water ran from him upon the grass. 

"Listen, Raineach," he said at last: "I hear 
the shouts of the men that follow us afar." 

"O lad," she cried, "dear lad, take me with 

So they climbed the ridge, and held by it on 
the farther side, hidden from their pursuers, 
and saw them no more. 

But now the day had broken, a dismal day 
of thunder mist and gathering storm. The 
highest tops were lost, not in their homely 
cloud-caps, but fading away into black vapour; 
and through the rents in it the sun shot beams 
of coppery and swarthy sheen, down into the 
smoky dells and tumbling precipices, that 
seemed to ditch their moorland road on either 
hand. The long rise and fall of Ullscarf before 
them looked like a vast bridge in the air, and 
leading nowhither but into darkness. Far to 
the right, gaps in the gloom showed awful 
edges of mountain, rolling and plunging along 
the skyline, as wheels that moved, great 
toppling balls advancing slowly over hill and 

dale, wayward and unescapable. Nigher at 
hand were huge monsters, mis-shapen and grey 
and foul to see; many-headed things, with eyes 
and crests and spiny backs, crouching along 
the naked ground, among white and bleaching 
bones in the black soil. And when the children 
came nearer, hoping to slip by, for there was 
no other way, these things became great 
boulders, as it might be images of unknown 
dragons of dreamland, or they were weird 
tussocks of grass on black and embattled 
towers and pinnacles of crumbling peat, that 
took the shape of laidly worms and all the 
terrors of winter-night tales. 

They won their way over the bridge in air, 
down through the silky green mosses and 
heatherless moor-grasses, to Greenup raise: 
for they dared not try the valleys on either 
hand in fear of losing the only way they knew, 
the safe and solitary ridge that must bring 
them southward and homeward. But the 
darkness deepened, and then came a flash and 
an instant crack and roar that sent them 
speeding upward in panic. Then the storm 
began, flash upon flash of blue light, terrifying 
and bewildering, as they scudded through the 
din and rattle of hail, blindly seeking shelter : 
and dashed into a nook of white shattered 
rocks, an island on the great heaving billow of 
moor. As they crushed themselves into the 
bield, some ugly beast with a snarl and white 
teeth pushed out, and fled past them into the 
storm. And there they cruddled, in shelter at 

last: and such was their weariness and the 
heaviness of the air, that they knew no more 
until they awoke wondering. 

For the sky was violet-blue above them, and 
the sun was going down among torn flitters of 
cloud-wreck. All around, the mountains were 
hard-edged and dark purple, with streaks and 
stripes and slashes of dim white from the hail 
and sudden cold. The children crept out, 
shivering and tottering. 

"Oh, Thorstein," sobbed the lass, "I can go 
no farther: let us lie down and die here." 

But he comforted her, and bade her lean on 
him, and led her up the moor, slowly and 
painfully toiling, until step by step they gained 
a rocky pike among white tables of stone and 
strange pillars and domes and curving hollows, 
like the icebergs they tell of in the far northern 
seas. And looking homeward in the twilight 
from that tower, they saw a deep dark valley 
below, and weary fells on the other side, and 
dells and mountain moors. But beyond, far 
beyond, a gleam of water and a rising shadow 
of mountain beside it, that wiped off the stars 
from the southern sky. Aye, and Thorstein 
greeted as he held the poor lass up to look at 
the strip of light in the distance. " It is my 
mere, it is our own mere, Raineach. I know 

How they came down Langdale side in the 
darkness they could never tell. From ledge to 
ledge, among the hammers and knots of rock, 
clambering and groping for foothold and hand- 

T 145 

hold, sliding sometimes down the screes and 
losing one another in the deep fern : but still 
descending, even when they were swept down 
the mazes of the black gills and the torrent 
beds roaring from the rain-storm : lightheaded 
with hunger, and reckless from fatigue, they 
reached the valley. 

Guided by a red spot of firelight they came 
upon the huts of the poor folk who had 
harboured them on their outward journey: and 
there they found food and a respite from their 
travelling ; and made a ready tale how the men 
had gone to the war and sent them home. For if 
they had let it be known that Gartnaidh was 
dead, it was odds but the fell-folk would have 
been rough and mishandled them. But for pity's 
sake they were good, and made them welcome, 
and wondered how they had come through the 
storm unscathed. They housed them, and fed 
them, as long as they would bide, and then set 
them a good step on their way, until they 
struck the path over Hawkshead moor and 
down Rusland pool to the Leven. 

As they came within sight of Leven firth and 
the well known hills, wooded softly and 
winsome after the horrible ruggedness of the 
mountains, Thorstein laughed and sang and 
shouted for joy, and stepped briskly forward. 
"Come along, lass," he cried, "come along 
with thee! Yonder is Legbarrow, and the 
sands of Leven : a bit more and we shall see 
Greenodd. Home, lass, home! Step out. 
Why, what ails thee, silly? " 

"Oh, Thorstein, I dare not. My heart is 

like water within me, and my head works 


" Aye, poor thing, little tired thing. I'll 

help thee along. See: yonder is our howe: 

and the smoke from Greenodd. See the bonny 

fields and flocks in them ; and ah ! they have 

built a new cottage by the ford, and sown a bit 

of the intake on the fell. There's Greenodd, 

Raineach : there it is ; our own house ! " 

"Nay, Thorstein, I can go no farther. My 

feet are broken, and my knees are trembling. 

Oh let me be, and leave me." 

"Why, lass, it is but a step. Well, then: 

well, then: bide here if thou must, and look 

for me back in a hop, skip and jump to lait 


She saw him trip off with no more farewell; 

and then she dragged herself up into a wild 

apple tree, and it began to grow dark: and she 

waited for him, sick at heart. Then the night 

fell, and still she waited for him. 

RAND doings were at CHAPTER 
'Greenodd house. There was XXVI. THE 
}a table set out before the door ARVALE 
'and drinking horns upon it, FOR SWEIN 
( and a vat of ale in the porch. BIORNSON. 
'Rosy-cheeked lasses, in their 

feast-day kirtles and kerchiefs, served all 

comers by way of a welcome and a foretaste of 

the supper. For this day was the Arvale made 

for Swein Biornson who had fallen at the 

battle of Brunanburg. 


It was their custom to bid to the funeral 
feast all their neighbours and friends, not only 
that they might do honour to the dead, but 
also that they might bear witness to the 
incoming of his heirs according to law and the 
wonted order of kinship. This they called 
Arv-ale, which is as much as to say Inheritance- 
ale : as they said Bride-ale for the wedding-feast. 
And still in these parts the name is given to 
cakes they make at funerals, which they call 

Now when Thorstein came up to the door, 
guests were in the act of arriving: namely a 
good neighbour whom he knew for Master 
Asmund, whose land was Asmundar-lea, away 
over the back fell : he had come now and then 
to feasts and meetings at Greenodd and the 
Legbarrow. He was finely dressed in a new 
kirtle and hose of the best homespun : he wore 
a broad felt hat, and leather riding-boots with 
bright spurs to them : and when he lit down 
from his horse, he stood in the porch with a 
seasonable sadness, and drank his ale to the 
good luck of the house, and hemmed, and 
sighed, and wiped his beard, and walked in. 

With him was a bright little slip of a lass, 
who must be his daughter, for one could see 
that her nag was well groomed and well fed : 
and though she was covered from head to foot 
with a great hooded riding-cloak of dark blue 
and somewhat splashed with mud, such a 
merry grey eye looked out from the hood and 
such a dainty foot stood in Thorstein 's hand as 

he helped her from the saddle, for he 
happened to be the nighest, that there was 
no doubt of it, who she was. She just put the 
horn to her lips, cast her eye round with a 
little grimace, and mimicking the grave gait of 
her father, stepped in after him. 

Thorstein looked at the servant-lasses, but 
they were strange to him. He saw that a feast 
was forward, and guessed well enough the 
reason why : for the fell-folk had already heard 
tidings of a great defeat, and he knew his 
father had passed him, that night of evil luck, 
on the way to the battle. He could put two 
and two together now. And as he stood in 
the porch, glad to be home again, it came 
over him suddenly that this was no more his 
father's house, and that his three-years'-long 
desire was unfulfilled after all: and the tears 
came into his eyes. 

Just then stood forth a couple of finely dressed 
young men, returned to the porch after 
bestowing neighbour Asmund and his daughter 

"Now, my good fellow," said Orm roughly, 
" no loitering here with the lasses and the ale. 
The thrall's quarters are yonder." 

"Hold hard," said Hundi. "This is none 
of Asmund's folk. He is more like a wild lad 
from the fells, with his long naked sword. Nay 
now, he is a queer one. What is thine errand, 

Thorstein said nothing. Words failed him. 
To think his own brothers knew him no more ! 


But just then the mother carne out, wet-eyed, 
but bustling over her guests, and anxious that 
all should be rightly seen to. Nay, never ask 
if she mistook him, or bade him begone. 

Well, the guests had come and the supper 
was ready. The hall was hung with its finest 
tapestries, and the floor new strewn with fern. 
After a fashion that was sometimes followed 
then-a-days, men and women were paired off 
to eat together. Unna sat in her own high-seat, 
with Asmund as honoured guest beside her. 
On her left hand was Raud her brother, who 
had taken land just across the water at 
Roudsey. One place was empty, the high-seat 
of the master of the house : but in all others 
men and women sat according to their rank, 
for the women's thwart-bench was not yet 
come into fashion, but if for weddings. As it 
fell out, Thorstein was given for his partner the 
young lass Asmund's daughter, Asdis by name. 
Folk nodded and patted the table with hard 
ringers when they two sat down, as if to say 
st Welcome back ! " and as though they would 
add, "Well matched, lad and lass!" For 
Asdis came out of her cloak like a butterfly 
from its shell ; and Thorstein, when his mother 
had bathed him and trimmed his hair and 
dressed him and little else she did before 
supper-time from the moment she set eyes on 
him why then he was quite another lad, and 
they all said as much. Hundi was quite 
friendly, and Orm was civil enough ; though he 
whispered to Hundi "Why couldn't the fellow 

have come to-morrow?" 

"Eh?" said Hundi, bluntly. "Why to- 

"Only that half is more than a third, 

Then Hundi went over to Thorstein and 
kissed him, and gave him a good slap on the 
back, saying "How about that whale, lad ? " At 
which they all laughed, for they knew the story 
well : but sobered themselves of a sudden and 
fell to business, namely their supper. Asdis, 
the roguish lass, ate off Thorstein's plate and 
drank out of his cup, for at feasts when guests 
outnumbered the household goods, that was 
their way. And between the mouthfuls she 
chattered in a low voice, for it was not 
seemly to speak loud at a feast for the dead. 

"So, neighbour Thorstein Sweinson, ye've 
been seeing the world?" 


"And maybe you've set eyes on a deal of 
grand folk, kings and queens and such like? 


"You don't say so. Hark to him. Happen 
you've been faring to Micklegarth, and 


"What then? Not over seas? Well, may- 
be over the fells and far away ? " 


"And clean forgotten thy mother tongue; or 
more like grown a peacock, that has never a 
word for such as us? " 


"I thought as much. Tell me, neighbour, 
didst thou see a ragged lad in the porch this 
afternoon ? " 


"Good. Then I'll tell thee. He was a 
scarecrow, he was. Who'd have thought of a 
prince in disguise ? " 

And so she went on teasing and bantering 
him, while he could not but spy at her round 
the corners of his eyes, so pretty she was in 
her low-cut kirtle and gold necklace on a white 
smooth neck, with the locks of her unbraided 
yellow hair brushing his sleeve, and the dimples 
in her little soft knuckles coming and going, as 
she handled and turned the cup before him. 
She was so dainty that he was fairly abashed, 
and never knew how to answer her, and hardly 
dared touch the trencher with his rough paws. 
There she was laughing softly, and joking in a 
whisper, with her apple-blossom chin over his 
shoulder; and folk staring at him too, till he 
was fit to sink under the table. Then he drank 
up all the ale, and held out the cup for more, 
and drank that : and then he felt more blate 
than ever, and sat stock still, for fear he should 
do something foolish. For ale-drinking was 
strange to him ; he got little stronger than milk 
on the fell, at the best of times. 

When they had eaten, healths were drunk; 

a cup to Thor, and a cup to each of the gods. 

At each health they all rapped the tables and 

shouted. Then one stood up and hemmed and 


coughed, it was Master Asmund their neigh- 
bour; and he spoke in a loud sing-song voice: 

"Friends all, and neighbours, here we are 
met together under this kindly roof-tree on a 
joyful errand nay, what say I ? Joyful is the 
day that brings the wanderer to his home " 
(at which they shouted " Hear him, welcome 
Thorstein Sweinson ! ") ' ' And joyful it is to find 
a hearty welcome from our worthy hostess, 
even in the midst of her great sorrow" ("Well 
said," they cried all.) " And right and meet it 
is to come together to cheer the widow and 
the orphan, and to speak a word of praise for 
him that is gone." ("Speak on!" they cried.) 
" Aye, friends and neighbours, he was a good 
man, was Swein Biornson. When I bethink 
me of the days he used to come home, ten and 
twelve winters it is and more, from summer- 
leading, before ever this new order of things 
began, when there was none of the nonsense 
that's talked nowadays about folk-right and 
king's law and the like : I say when I bethink 
me of our good neighbour that was, and him 
coming home by harvest.time as regular as the 
swallows in spring, with a shipload of fine 
wares that had cost him many a hard knock in 
the gathering, and many a long cruise on 
strange coasts, and through stormy seas : I can 
see him once again in his seat over yonder, at 
the feast he used to give for his home-coming 
and the harvest of the sea, and well I mind his 
hearty voice; 'Take thy time, neighbour; 
make thy choice,' he would say: for he had a 

u 153 

gift in the heap for every guest, and a good 
word with it. And when I look round on the 
land he stubbed, bonny corn-riggs and lea land 
it is now, and few of ye can call to mind as well 
as I the rough spot this used to be, before ever 
he set to work upon it : when I come over the 
fell and look down on this fine house he raised, 
fit up it is with every comfort, and nothing 
awanting to suit his lady, highborn as she may 
be, what with householding gear and servants 
out-doors and in, dairy fit for a king's daughter 
and byres of the best, and all the stock so well 
managed, for there's a deal more in managing, 
mind you, than some folk allow, that are 
always blaming their luck for every beast they 
lose, and every load of hay that they let rot in 
the rain : I say he was a grand man, and long 
will it be or we see the like of him again. It is 
not his friends only that say so, mind you: 
they tell me the very king of England himself 
offered our neighbour to make him a thane, 
and set him over the country-side to take 
scat of the folk: but 'Nay,' says Swein 
Biornson as proud as a prince, * Nor thane of 
thine nor thrall of thine will I be,' says he to 
the king. ' I am a free statesman, and a good 
neighbour to all,' said he: 'and ye kings 
may lait your tools otherwheres.' That was 
a grand speech, friends : and many's the grand 
word we have had from him over yonder 
at our meetings, and many a time folk have 
been ruled by his rede. For look you, friends, 
there was never a man of us but kenned right 

well that Swein Biornson spoke his mind, and 
every word came out of a good heart, and 
honest; though maybe we could not all of us 
go as far as he did, in some matters. And 
now," said Asmund, bringing his speech to end, 
" He is gone, and we shall see him no more. 
Over the fells in the great battle-play, hewing 
down his foes as a lad haggs weeds with his 
wand, leaping through the spears of the English 
and shouting to the cowards who dared not 
follow him : the kemp and captain of the little 
band that backed him, until the Saxons faltered 
and fled, so they tell the tale that saw it. Aye, 
and if Owain and Constantine and Olaf the 
Dane had but found a handful such as he, there 
would have been another tale to tell of the 
doings at Brunanburg. But it pleased the 
Allfather to send for him, and take him to 
himself. Right glad we should have been to 
have laid our neighbour in his own howe, to 
overlook the lands he has won and the house 
he has planted ; but afar on the Winheath he 
lies, and Odin has spared him the sorrow of a 
straw-death. Let us be glad, friends, and 
rejoice for him : for the deeds he has done in 
his life, and for the glory he has gathered in his 
death. Drink with me this cup to him : drink 
to Swein Biornson." 

Standing up, they drank in silence : and in 
silence they sat down again. Then Orm 
Sweinson, as being the eldest son of his father, 
stood in his place to drink the Bragi-cup. It 
was their custom at Arvales to leave the dead 


man's high-seat empty until his health had 
been drunk, and honoured with some fitting 
speech or vow made by him who should be the 
chief heir to the name of the dead: and not 
until then might he sit in the empty high-seat, 
and by that token take the rule over the house 
of his father. 

So Orm's cup was filled, and he rose and 
came into the middle of the hall, and stood 
with one foot on the stone curb of the hearth. 
"I drink," he cried aloud, "this cup to Bragi; 
and I vow hereby to do vengeance for the dead, 
and justice to the living." Then they cried 
out that he had vowed well ; could say no less 
and need say no more : and they made room 
for him to take his place upon his father's seat, 
as master of the house thenceforward. 

Then far into the night they sat to drink, 
and each man told his tale of him that was 
gone, or sang a song in honour of him. But 
long before they were done with their feast, 
Thorstein's eyes were closed, for he was heavy 
with travelling, and with the joy and sorrow of 
home-coming, and maybe also with the strong 
ale he had drunk. So he slept where he sat, 
long after Asdis, pouting and vexed, had gone 
off to her chamber with the rest of the women - 

Thus ended the first day of the Arvale for 
Swein Biornson. And all the while, in the 
dark night, Raineach clung to the branches of 
the wild apple tree by Crakeford, weary and 
hungry and sick at heart, and listening for 


Thorstein. And when she slept for very 
weariness, she dreamed that he was dragging 
her among proud strangers who scorned her: 
and then that he was saying "Off, off, ugly 
paddock." And she awoke weeping, and 
listened for him, in the patter of the rain upon 
the drenched leaves in the dawning. 

ORNING came and they were CHAPTER 
stirring. Thorstein found it XXVII. 
hard to awake; but as he SWEIN 
rubbed his eyes and shook BIORNSON'S 
himself, there carne over him HEIRS. 
the thought of Raineach and 
how he had left her: and he was bitterly 
ashamed. He ran to his mother, and 
" Mother," said he, " I have been both knave 
and fool." 

"What now, barn?" said she. 
" Mother," said he, " I had a gold ring in my 
hand, and I dropped it in the ale vat." 

"Never heed it, barn" said she: "thou wilt 
have gold rings enough, and that thou wilt see 
before to-day is done. And thy old one will 
land up when the ale is drunk." 

" Mother," he said, "there was a young lass 
with me as I came along the road : and I left 
her hard by Crakeford ; for she was weary, she 
said, and would come no farther. " 

"A lass, barn? What, thou art young to lead 
lasses up and down. But lads will be men 
nowadays, no sooner than they are out of 
swaddling clothes. And what sort of a lass 
may she be? " 


" She's a good lass, mother, and a kind one 
to me: and I'd liefer by far lose ring or ring- 

"What then, lad? I'll say nay to nothing, 
now I have thee home: but be guided. Here 
we are all throng as throng can be, and 
folk to break their fast: and men-folk are 
aye fractious on the morrow of a feast until 
they be served. And there's the settlement to 
follow, and a gey work it will be to get through 
unless Orm be more reasonable than I fear. 
Let me send one of our men to lait thy lass, 
and bestow her in one of the thrall's cots until 
we get these guests off our hands: or if thy 
mind is to fetch her here upon us all, maybe 
Asdis Asmund's daughter will give her a share 
of her bed. That's a bonny lass, Thorstein." 

"Nay, mother," answered he, stuttering, " I 
doubt Asdis will give us no thanks for thrusting 
a stranger upon her: and Raineach " 

"What?" said his mother: "is it an Irish 

"Never mind what, mother, now: but I say 
she will be better suited elsewhere than here, 
until this turmoil is over, and then." 

The first thing was their breakfast, which 
was a great meal with the North-folk then-a- 
days, and the set-out was well nigh as big as at 
supper time. Next thing was the settlement, 
and division of the dead man's goods ; to be 
done before the neighbours, fair and square 
and above-board : for in those days they had 
no lawyers and writings and such-like, either 


for the making of laws or for the con ve)- ing of 
property, and all was done by word of mouth 
and deed of hand in the presence of witnesses, 
whose testimony was the only token of the 
continuance of a custom or the assurance of 

After question asked and answered about 
debts the dead man might owe, and after 
sundry to whom he had lent money or goods 
had repaid them in bags of silver or ells of cloth 
they came to the division of the estate. It was 
their use for the widow to take one part in 
three, both of the land and goods. After some 
talk, they climbed the howe and parcelled out 
the whole landtake of Swein Biornson, both 
wild-wood and cleared land : and coming down 
from the howe they all walked over the grounds 
as they had measured them out from above, 
beating the boundaries, and planting staves 
or stones from point to point along. And this 
side of the line, upbank towards Greenodd, was 
to be Unna's, and the other side was to be for 
the rest of the heirs. 

Of furniture and movable things, ornaments 
and apparel and household gear, they carried 
out a third part and stood them in a heap in 
one of the sheds, until it should be settled 
where Unna would bestow herself and her 
goods. Then she chose out her third part of 
the thralls, both men and maids, and set them 
aside. And by that time the morning was 
spent, and the mid-day drinking was served to 
them in the disordered garth. But to the 

younger folk all this was a holiday-making, and 
it was merriment to see arks opened and goods 
shifted, and the thralls set out in a line and 
chosen: and to hear the maids say "Oh 
mistress, take me!" and to one and another 
the mistress replying "Nay, lass; I know thee 
too well." 

So then they talked about what should be 
done as between the three lads ; until one said, 
" It has been done before, neighbours, and it 
is often a good custom, for the first-born to get 
house and land, and for the younger to take the 
movable goods. Now here we have three lads: 
and if we set all that remains in three shares, 
namely house and land and farming-stock to 
one share : and the ship and all that belongs to 
it, boats and boat-sheds, tools and tackle and 
such-like, to another share: and lastly if we 
reckon up silver and gold, apparel and furniture 
and such chattels to the third share: then I 
say we shall not be far from a fair parting of 
the estate. And I say that if Orm Sweinson 
takes the house and farm, he will do well : and 
if Hundi takes the ship and goes abroad, he is 
like to thrive : and if Thorstein the child gets 
the money and movables, he will be well set 

At this Orm boggled somewhat, for said he, 
"An empty house is cold cheer." But Thor- 
stein answered, "Why, brother, we can mend 
that. Give me and my goods house-room, and 
I will give thee the help of me and mine." 
And so said Unn, for she was loath to leave the 

old spot, and Orm knew right well what a 
manager she was. And so they settled it, 
without more ado, and went down to the field 
for a game of wrestling. 

There they played until supper time, and 
Thorstein acquitted himself right well, though 
he was hardly fifteen years of age and far from 
full grown. But his life on the fells had 
hardened him, so that Hundi Snail, as they 
called him because he was easy and fat, went 
down under the youngster : and even Orm was 
thrown twice out of thrice; at which he was 
vexed, though he said little. So to set matters 
right Unna bade them in to supper: and as 
they went up to supper said Asmund to 
Thorstein, "A word with thee, my lad." 

"Say on, master," says he. 

"Look you now," says Asmund. "Thou 
hast been these three winters away, and no 
doubt we shall hear of thy doings. But one 
thing I see, and that is, thou hast not lost thy 

" Thank you kindly," says Thorstein. 

"But," says Asmund, "take a word from one 
who knows. It is not all of us who have the 
trick, like thy poor father, of being soft to 
friends and sour only to foes : and even betwixt 
brothers things do not always fall as one would. 
Now, was it quite wise in thee to throw thy 
brother Orm, think'st thou, those two times? 
Was not once enough ? " 

"What!" said he, "I threw him fair." 

" Ha ! ha ! " laughed Asmund. " Fair is foul 


in such matters. Riddle me that, lad. But 
when thou comest to know Orm a bit better, 
from serving him a month or two " 

" Serving him ? " cries Thorstein. 

"Well, what else? since he is master of the 
house, and a masterful man at any time. But 
when thou hast need of a friend and a friendly 
roof over thy head, take thy money-bags, if 
aught be left in them, and hie thy ways over to 
Asmundarlea. Say no more, my lad, but bear 
it in mind.'* 

So they went to supper, and Asdis sat again 
by Thorstein, daintier than ever, and not a bit 
put out with him : and he was a deal more at 
his ease. And while men drank after supper, 
said she, " Bonny things, master wrestler, I 
spied among thy goods : and a lucky lad is the 
getter of them." 

" Aye," said he, " they are fine enough, I 

" Would it be asking over much to have a 
sight of them once again before we go ? There's 
a stitch in some of thy hangings I would be 
glad to learn." 

So he brought an armful and cleared the 
table where they sat, and she fingered the em- 
broideries and praised them, and praised him, 
until he had given her a good half of them in 
spite of her nays. 

" What," she said at last, " I'll see no more 
if everything I touch is to be given me. But 
in one of thy kists, I saw a fine draught-board. 
Shall we have a game ? " 


" I doubt," said he, " I have forgotten how 
to play." 

" Oh," said she, clapping her hands, " then 
I'll teach thee, master mountain bear: and that 
will be fun, for it's dull for us poor lasses if you 
men do nought but drink till bedtime and 

So he found the draught-board and the 
carved knaves, and they played fox and geese 
until he learned something of the trick of it. 
Then she said, " Nay, thou art fairly my 
master. I'll teach no more. Let us play 
rightly as folk do, and stake a trifle on a game 
or two." 

Well, the end was she won a good bit more 
of Thorstein's fineries, and carried a great 
heap off to bed with her. And if she was 
pleased, so was he, at finding any way to 
please so pretty and dainty a creature. 

IOW the third day of the feast 
had come, when the guests 
bethought them of going their 
[ways homewards. Thorstein 
went out with Asdis to catch 
|her nag for her, and to set her 
on the way with Asmund and his men. But 
when they got up to the fell-pasture where the 
horses were, thralls were cutting wood from 
the stubs in the coppice hard by. And just 
as Thorstein was laying hold of the nag, what 
should he see but a poor, thin, gaunt figure 
in rags, among the wood-cutters, carrying a 
huge load of sticks, and the red hair hanging 

down unkempt over her face. One of the 
men, in rough horseplay, as rude rascals do 
with a strange new fellow-servant, put out his 
foot, and let her trip over it, and tumble with 
the load and all. Then another went up to 
her and cursed her for a fool and gave her a 
kick. Thorstein flew at them, and it was 
right for one and left for t'other, and down 
they went, heels over head, one with a broken 
jaw and one with bloody nose. Thorstein 
picked up the lass, and would have kissed her, 
but she fought herself loose and struggled 

" Raineach ! " he cried ; " Raineach ! " 

She turned and looked at him in his finery. 
Then she looked at Asdis who had come up, 
staring. Then she looked down at her tatters, 
and black, bare feet and fingers. 

Asdis put her hand on Thorstein's shoulder. 
" Eh, what breaks ! " she giggled, and then 
burst into shrieks of laughter. Thorstein 
shook off her hand, and darted after the ragged 
lass, who fled through the wood. 

"Oh, Raineach!" he cried after her in her 
own language, " Raineach my darling ! forgive 
me, forgive me ! Listen to me : only hear me ! 
Stay, Raineach, only stay, and hear me ! " 

Poor little thing, she was too weak and ill 
to run far : and stopped at bay under a ridge 
of rock in the wood. But still she kept him 
off with her hands, while she wept and laughed 
and wept again. 

Thorstein grovelled on the moss before her, 


and poured out his heartful of passionate 
words : blaming himself for knave and fool : 
and excusing himself by telling her what had 
passed, and how his mother had promised to 
have her well bestowed in a thrall's cot, out of 
the way of the stoore of the guests : and how 
he could not come nigh her till they were 
gone : and over and over again he said it, till 
he had no more to say. At last he lay quite 
still, sobbing bitterly. 

"What's all this?" shouted a rough voice 
through the wood. It was Orm. " Look 
here, young fellow, don't go knocking my 
thralls about: I'll thank you to learn manners, 
if you mean to stay. And who is this ugly 
goblin, I'd like to know ? " 

Thorstein was on his feet in a moment, and 
Raineach in his arms as if they had never 

" She's my sister, kinsman : the child of my 
foster-father. And I give thee to know, that 
there's not a lass in the land to match her." 

" One would think the giant had fostered 
thee, barn," said Orm, using the old byword, 
and laughing scornfully. 

" Then beware of the giant's fosterling." 

" Well, come and show thy mother what a 
prize thou hast got." 

"Aye, that I will, and all the world," 
answered Thorstein, as she nestled to him, 
and clung to him, sobbing no more, but tall 
and straight and proud, in her rags and dirt. 

And then he led her to Greenodd house, 

whence all the guests had gone away : and 
speaking in her tongue, told his mother who 
she was. And his mother answered him, and 
spoke to her words that she could hear, and 
that made her weep for gladness. And when 
she was washed and fed, and dressed in 
clothes from Thorstein's own store, simple 
things that Asdis had not cared to take, she 
sat by the fire while Thorstein told them, far 
into the night, the story of his wanderings 
and of her kindness to him. 

As the story went on, Unna drew nearer to 
her the child, that wondered, and understood 
nought of the tale but what she guessed from 
their glances : until her head was on the good 
mother's lap, and from her eyes, half shut, the 
tears crept out, and through the great red 
mane, upon the kind hands that petted her. 

When Thorstein had done, Hundi kissed 
him, and Orm came over out of the high-seat 
he was proud to keep, and held out his 
hand. " Kinsman," he said " let bygones be 

"Why," said Thorstein, holding his brother's 
hand : " What is there to forgive ? " 

But Unna said, in the soft Erse tongue that 
came back to her like a dream of childhood, 
" Many a time have I prayed, whiles to the 
Allfather, and whiles to the White Christ, for 
a little lass, though I dared tell no soul else of 
the folly. And he has heard me, whoever it is 
hears poor folk's prayers. He has taken my 
man to himself, and he has sent me this bonny 
maid." 167 







T was not all plain sailing, 
though the start was fair. 
They tell how, once upon a 
time, a lad brought home a 
wild kitling from the woods, 
and nursed it up among the 
the hearth. So it was at 
Greenodd with Raineach. 

With the best will in the world, she found 
it hard to learn their ways, and quite beyond 
her to follow them. At first there was the 
labour of a new speech to get. Thorstein 
had picked up her talk with ease: but she 
could never frame her lips to the strange 
sounds, nor force her thoughts into the words 
of the Northfolk. She would be eager to 
chatter, and brimful of news, or wonderment, 
or recollection, or explanation : helping herself 
out with gestures, and the forcefulness of her 
native manner, unlike the slow steadiness of 
the Northern delivery, and strange to them 
and disquieting. And in the midst of it all, a 
word wrongly spoken, and drolly misinter- 
preting her meaning, would set them all 
roaring with laughter. At which she would 
be vexed and sulk : for her people were 
grave and staid, though forceful and rapid in 
speech and gesture : while the Northmen, slow 
of speech and drawling, were ready with rough 
jokes and childish fooling. So she took their 
laughter in bad part : and they took her 
glumping for the sign of a bad heart : and 
Thorstein had work enough to come between 

them all. 

And then she could never learn the deft 
neatness of their household ways, their cleanli- 
ness in kitchen and diary, and tidiness of 
table and chamber, and handy management of 
needle and shuttle and rock. If there were 
doubt in their counsels, mishap with beasts or 
men, or any grave trouble befalling, who but 
Raineach was run to for help : for she kept 
her head, while the other women-folk were 
shrieking and scurrying ; and she was dry-eyed 
while they were weeping ; or sober while they 
giggled like fools. But even for that they 
thought worse of her, as one who had not the 
feelings of other folk, and never laughed nor 
greeted when she ought, nor was shocked like 
a decent lass, nor disgusted like a dainty one. 

And that bush of red hair was never dressed 
for long ; and her kirtle was torn, and cobbled 
up coarsely ; and her kerchief awry ; and her 
work fouled with losing, and leaving in corners, 
and crumpling in hasty forgetfulness. And if 
sometimes she was the pride of them all, for 
her tall, slim strength, and her bright bonny 
face with the proud high-set cheek and brent 
brow, and with the earnest friendliness that 
shone in her eyes ; at other whiles she was 
dismal, and the light faded out of her, and she 
was no better than a draggle-tailed slut, they 
said. And then nothing healed her but a 
run with Thorstein on the fell, and unmaidenly 
scraffling among the beasts, or rough pulling 
and hauling at the boat-sheds with Hundi and 

w 169 

the ship-wrights. Unna would often say over 
to herself how much she owed the lass for 
Thorstein's sake, and how much she might do 
for the lass to bring her into shape : and so 
schooled herself to be good to her : but it was 
not always easy to keep back a sharp word; 
and a sharp word spoiled everything. 

Thorstein too was a puzzle to them. Every 
indoor business he shirked, and cared only for 
herding and boating and the rough work of 
the farm. He had been so long on the fells 
that quiet life came amiss to him : and often 
by the fireside at nights, as that winter wore, 
he would fidget and worry until he found a 
call for turning out, so that even the shepherds 
bade him leave them in peace to look after 
their own job. Then he took to hunting : and 
they owned he was a famous hunter. He 
would fish in the firth, day and night and all 
weathers, as if he had a bear's warmth in him. 
They were glad of the fish he brought home : 
but it was irksome to have him bring in his 
dripping self along with it, to reek and simmer 
by the hearth, when all was redd up and snug 
for the evening. " Folk must do as folk do," 
said they behind his back: but when they 
said it to his face he looked ugly, and Unna 
dreaded a fight with Orm one of those days. 

So the nights wore on to Yule: and then 
came a messenger from over the fell to bid 
the Greenodd folk to Asmundarlea for the 
feast-tide: and "Over and above that," said 
he, " my mistress Asdis bade thee in especial, 

Thorstein Sweinson, and charged thee to 
bring the young may, for she would fain know 
her, and make a sister of her." 

When Raineach understood that this was 
the lass that had laughed at her, on that 
dreadful day which nobody ever named, she 
said flatly that she would not go. But Unna 
begged hard, and told her that the lass was 
good at heart, and meant all kindly, and that 
it would be a feather in her cap to win such 
a friend. So Raineach dared say no more, 
though she loathed the journey. 

But Thorstein found her some right bonny 
fairings and tricked her out as never was : and 
Raineach was child enough to be proud of her 
attire, and said in her heart she would be a 
match for them all. And they took her on a 
nag like any lady, and rode over the fell, and 
were received heartily ; and all went well at 

Asdis was a handsome lass in her way : less 
tall and strong than Raineach, but far more 
snod and neat and womanlike. Raineach at 
her best was a wild-wood goddess, and at her 
worst she was a grey-faced tatterling again : 
but Asdis was always the same, blithe and 
bonny, well set up and well seen to. So that 
one would have thought there need be no 
strife between them. 

But the very next day Asdis was at her 
tricks : and every one but Thorstein aided 
and abetted her in showing off poor Raineach 
in little things, that bit and stung like midges 


on a wet mid-summer eve. She would flatter 
till Raineach was led into simpering, and 
then they chuckled: she would ask her advice 
about tapestry stiches, and Raineach, seeing 
no malice, would give grave counsels that a 
body might see were nought : she would mock 
her gait and manner of eating, and entice her 
to say the words she always said wrong ; and 
folk would laugh ; and even Thorstein laughed 
as one who couldn't help it. Then Asdis cast 
a sheep's eye at him, and as it were claimed 
him for her friend and ally, and Raineach was 
furious, and paled, and blushed, and wept, and 
sulked. Asdis did it all so cleverly, and was 
so pretty and innocent over it, that even 
Thorstein would take her part and bid Rain- 
each not be a fool. She promised to amend, 
and was bitterly ashamed, and' tried again : 
and so it went on until they were all glad to 
part and get home again. And Master Asmund 
at the farewell clapped Thorstein on the back 
and said " Well, lad, we'll not forget, and 
we look to see thee when thou art tired of 
Greenodd and all thy folk." And so the lad 
was set up with himself, and vexed with 
Raineach, thinking that she had spoiled their 
sport, and was after all no better than a 
pettish child. 

One day when Yule was well over, his 
mother called him aside and " Lad," she said, 
" I doubt I am wearying of these doings. It's 
not that I don't love the lass from my heart, 
and there's nothing I would not do for her. 

But its dreigh work putting up with her 
whimsies, and setting things to right after 
her. Never a stitch she sets, but I have to 
unpick it : never a pat of butter she turns, 
but I have to wash it : what, and she was 
stirring the cream this very day with a horn 
spoon when the rowan thival was there at 
hand. And she slaps the servant lasses if 
they so much as smile, and she has words 
with the men, aye, even with Orm himself. 
Why, he said to me this very day, Mother, 
said he, tell that young spitfire that I'll have 
no more of her sauce; let her know who is 
master here, said he." 

" Well, mother," said Thorstein, ' Raineach 
is a good lass, and means well." 

" Nay, never doubt it," said his mother. 
" But she does ill, and sets us all by the ears. 
It's grieved I am to say it, but I would be 
thankful if one she would hearken to gave her 
a word and got her to amend." 

" You are hard on her, mother. You all 
said you'd take her for one of us, and make 
her at home. And its nothing but tease and 
worry, till the poor child never knows whether 
she's on her head or her heels." 

" Nay, Thorstein : that's not a fair word to 
the mother that bore thee. Who brought her 
here ? Who fetched the wild cat into the 
house ? " 

Then he was angry, and she was angry, and 
they had high words, and parted with little 
peace between them. 

He went out to look for Raineach, and 
" Lass," he said, " what hast thou done to 
set them all against thee ? " 

"I?" said she. "Peace for shame, Thor- 

"Nay," he answered, moodily. "It's truth. 
Here's mother can stand it no more, and Orm 
fit to turn us out of the house." 

"Well then, I'll go for one. Thou canst 
stay if thou wilt." 

" Raineach," he said, " hear reason." 

" Little reason in you folk," she answered. 
"And thou, Thorstein, once I thought ." 
But she burst into weeping, and fled away. 

Thorstein turned in again, angry with her, 
and more angry with his folk, and angry most 
of all with himself. As he sat and thought it 
out it seemed to him that this would blow over 
like other storms, and that Raineach would 
surely come back to supper. But supper-time 
came, and no Raineach. 

" What's to do with the lass ? " said Unn. 
" Well, hungry folk can't wait, and I'll keep a 
bite against she comes." 

" Nay," said Orm, " sulky dogs go supper- 

But Thorstein was uneasy, for he had never 
before parted from her in anger. He left his 
porridge in the bowl and went out. It was 
starlight, and snowy, and he called her name. 
But the sound died away over the dim white 
fields : and he went forward calling for her, 
and into the fields and up to the ford. 

He searched high and low, far into the 
night : and knocked at the thralls' cots to ask 
for her. At last one said, coming sleepily to 
the door, that he had seen her in the gloaming 
making her way to the fell through the bare 
woods. He knew it was the wild may by the 
glint of red in the boughs on the snow. Then 
Thorstein was terribly fleyed, and ran to seek 
the place where she had been seen. He found 
her track in the snow and followed it up, 
leaping with all his might, breathless, and 
stopping only now and again to call, and to 
listen for an answer. The late moon rose, 
and her traces were still there, the little holes 
where her feet had gone, and the blur where 
she had stumbled or rested. 

It was long before he found her, plodding 
ahead up the fell, far beyond their bounds. 

"Let me go," she cried, "to my own people. 
Let be, and forget Raineach." 

"To thy people?" he said ; "then I follow." 
And he tramped onwards by her side. 

After a while she said, " They will kill thee. 
Go back." 

"What do I care?" said he; and they 
went on. 

Again she said, " Thorstein, thou art a fool." 

" No news," said he. 

Then it began to dawn : and they were far 
on the moor, and the mountains stood tall on 
the rosy sky. She sat down in the snow, 
and he sat beside her. Suddenly she put her 
hands before her face and burst out into wild 


laughing. " Fools we are both," she said. 
" Look at yon sky, and our own fells, white 
and still. And we with storm and blackness 
in our hearts. Oh Thorstein, wouldst thou 
truly go with me ? " 

" To the end of the world," said he. 

"And beyond?" 

He took her in his arms, and the sunrise 
brightened upon them. Long they sat together 
in the glow, and forgot the night, and the 
blackness in their hearts, and, all the evil of 
bygone days, They seemed to have grown 
old, now, and wise. What silly children they 
had been, once. 

It was late in the afternoon when they came 
into Greenodd hall, where all went on as ever : 
but the two were changed, and saw the spot 
as in a dream. 

" Mother," said he, " I have brought her 
back. Let us rest here awhile : and give us 
thy blessing. We'll trouble the house no 
more : give us time, and we'll away to a spot 
of our own." 

" Children," said Unna, " what game is 

"I am a man now, mother," said he. "I 
can fend for myself, with her to help me. 
Never say nay : we have it all planned, and 
ask nothing but good-will." 

" Good- will, my son you have: aye, the best. 

But, barn, hear reason. You are young yet, 

and little you know of life. Bide awhile ; 

take your time. Who but guessed what it was 


coming to? But Thorstein lad, if thou love 
thy lass, be guided. There's house to build, 
lad, and gear to get. Will you live in the 
wood, and eat mast like swine, with a starving 
brood of piglings running naked in the mire ? 
A man, lad, takes a man's rede: and a woman, 
lass, must grow womanly. Is it all done in a 


OUNG they were, but no CHAPTER 
fools. They kept their pro- XXX. 
mise. Raineach was a new THORSTEIN 
creature, anxious to please and GOES 
amenable to guidance; willing ABROAD, 
to learn all that Thorstein's 
wife should know. He on his part acknow- 
ledged that there was a deal to do before 
he could set up house: and when Hundi 
sometimes joked him about his castle that 
was to have been on the shore of his mere, 
he would take it quite soberly, and reply, 
"Aye lad, I was a bit before-hand: but wait 
until I have got my gear together, and then." 

" Better come for a trip with me this season, 
and see what skill we make at cheaping. 
With thy goods on my ship, thou and I might 
do a conny bit of trade, and see the world : 
maybe we'd light on luck, and come back 
able men." 

Now it was a saying among these people 
" Homely wit has homebred barn : " and no 
lad was thought much of until he had been 
awhile abroad. There was none but Raineach 
that had a word against it ; and she was 
x 177 

overborne the easier because she had made up 
her mind to be good, and think of her own 
wishes last. 

So Thorstein busied himself in cleaning all 
the skins he had got that winter, and added a 
good few to his stock : and he packed up 
everything he could lay hands on, if only it 
would turn him a penny, or barter off against 
goods that would be useful to him in his 
housekeeping. And at last they bade farewell 
to all, and taking the shipcarles who had been 
used to voyage with Swein, they started 
merrily on a fine spring day, down the Leven, 
and stood over the sea for Ireland. 

At that time there was an unwonted peace 
through the coasts of England and all round 
about. These were the last few years of king 
Athelstan's life, when he had brought his 
neighbours under him, or won their good will. 
He reigned in great glory and honour, and 
his realm prospered: his strong hand, or the 
fear of it, kept all the lesser kings and earls 
of the North in quiet. Folk were glad of a 
breathing-space after an age of struggles and 
the great fight at Brunanburg; and even across 
the sea there was a lull, so to say, in the 
turmoil of the nations. The age of the vikings 
was over, and it was now the turn of cooler 
heads and wiser counsels to set to rights the 
new order of things, and to establish the 
kingdoms and governments which had arisen 
out of the disorder and wreck of the old 

By these days the Northmen had left being 
nought but rovers and robbers : they had 
become settlers and traders and rulers of 
realms on the seaboard of all the northern 
lands. And not only in the North ; for scarce 
a spot was there beween Greenland and 
Constantinople where they or their children 
were not found, like bees in a garden, at once 
gathering honey for themselves, and sowing 
for others the seeds of new life and strength ; 
the busiest and brightest of all the kindreds of 
the age. 

But the Northern lands were their homes. 
On salt shores, where farming alone could 
never thrive; on bleak headlands among the 
seamews' nests ; on lone islands veiled in the 
mist or girdled with the surf, homes where 
any but a race of sailors would have hungered 
slowly to death, or pined into dismal savagery, 
there they bred and multiplied, and sang 
through the winter, and strove through the 
summer ; their wit and wisdom and valour 
putting to shame (though little they knew it) 
the follies and the vices and the idleness of the 
South. It were long to reckon up all that we 
owe them, in thought and speech, in law and 
custom, in arts and crafts ; for without books, 
they made themselves learned ; without schools, 
they became artists; without examples, they 
perfected laws ; and without bigotry, they found 
freedom. A wonderful people, and greatly to 
be gloried in, even yet, by their inheritors ; still 
more by their own children in the day of their 


strength. For a thousand years ago it might 
well be said wherever a Northman's keel strake 
strand there he found his kin to hand ; be it 
west-over-sea from old Norway, in Britain or 
Ireland and the isles thereabout ; or in Green- 
land or Iceland ; or the Baltic coasts, and 
thenceaway to the Atlantic, from Finmark and 
Denmark to Holland and Valland; everywhere 
the Northman's tongue was heard and the 
Northman's hand feared. 

It was no wonder then, if lads of the breed, 
born in this corner of no man's land, and 
nourished up among wild folk and woodland 
swine, should long eagerly to see the ways of 
the world and the dwellings and the doings of 
their kindred far and wide. Over and above 
the need to eke out the scanty gift of the 
earth by sea-going trade, there was the same 
spell that had beckoned them up the Crake, as 
boys, curiosity, and the love of adventure, 
hailing them now from over sea, and waving 
afar off who knows what glittering thing, to 
which reach out they must, whether they would 
or no. " Homely wit has home-bred barn " 
aye, indeed, if his overword is always " Else- 
where," and his day always " To-morrow." 

So it was in the spring of the year, nine 
hundred winters, thirty and eight, since our 
Lord was born, the lads departed and came 
into Dublin Bay. And when they were landed, 
officers of the king stayed them to know their 
errand and whence they came. When they 
said they were chapmen, they were brought to 

the palace ; for the king's folk had the right to 
be first buyers, and to fix the price of wares. 

At the gate who should spy them but Olaf 
Guthferthson himself. He asked the name of 
the bonny boys, and they told him their names 
and their father's name, and that they were 
from Hougun way. 

" What," said he, " are you the sons of that 
brave Swein from those parts who fell at 
Brunanburg ? Ah ! " said he, " if we had 
found but a few more such men, it's not in 
Dublin I'd be sitting now, but holding my 
court in London town." And when he knew 
for certain that they were the sons of Swein 
Biornson the kemp, as he called him, he 
brought them in to the queen, and bade her 
treat them well, for they were the sons of a 
better man than any of his. 

So for a day or two they had famous enter- 
tainment, and thought themselves made men. 
But they soon saw ugly looks among the 
house-carles of Olaf: and one of their folk 
bade them beware of a shrewd turn ; " for 
these Danes," said he, "there's no trusting; 
and stranger's praise is the surest doom." 

So they came before the queen and told her 
how their business pressed, for that they had 
far to go : and then she bade them farewell, 
but not willingly as it seemed ; and a fine gift 
she gave them. And as they scudded out of 
Dublin Bay, they thanked their luck, and 
cursed all kings' houses for downright wolf- 


Then, for the wind was in the South, they 
went up and cruised about the Irish Sea to the 
Isle of Man and the great bights of Galloway. 
There they met many of their own people who 
guested them in one place and another, and 
gave them good speed : but little trade they 
did, for their wares were such as all men had 
in plenty. They sailed from Galloway up the 
firth of Clyde, and by the Kumreyar or Isles of 
the Welsh, to Alclyde, which was also called 
Dun-breton, where was the chief city of king 
Domhnaill : and there Thorstein was somewhat 
shy of being known lest a grudge might be 
owing him for his escape and for the death of 
Gartnaidh. But nobody seemed in those parts 
to know or care for old stories of wild fell-folk : 
He asked news of the queen, hoping to hear 
that his friend Aluinn was by now wedded to 
Domhnaill and advanced to be lady of the 
land. But folk laughed and wagged their 
heads, and gave him to understand that there 
might be a dozen queens up and down for 
aught they knew : and he asked no more, for 
pity of the poor beauty away in the Cumber- 
land fells, who had put her trust in the gay 
raking spark. He said a deal to Hundi, out of 
the fulness of his heart : what a shame it was 
that men should be light of love, and how he 
would like to see the blood-eagle carved on 
Domhnaill's back. To which Hundi Snail 
answered lazily that he talked like a great guff: 
and Thorstein was near coming to blows with 


When they came out of the firth of Clyde 
they rounded Satiri's muli, the Mull of Cantire : 
and sailed to the Hebrides, which they called 
Il-ey and Myl, Tyrwist and Skidh, Iwist and 
Liodhus; and everywhere they found Northmen 
and friends settled, and an open market. So 
then they came to the mainland again, in 
Sutherland, and looked in at the Lax-fiord, 
and rounded Cape Hwarf, and so to the 

At this time Turf-Einar the earl was dead, 
and his sons Arnkel and Erlend and Thorfin 
Skull-cleaver had the power. Thorfin's wife 
was Grelaug, the daughter of earl Duncan at 
Duncansby in Caithness, over the Pentland 
firth : and Grelaug's mother was Groa the 
daughter of Thorstein the Red. Thus there 
was even some far-away kinship between her 
and the lads ; and when this was brought 
forward they were taken as the queen's guests, 
and they got protection for themselves and 
their men, and a good market for their wares. 
And as the season was now far spent, and the 
Northern seas are stormy when the winter 
comes on, they asked that they might sit there 
in Orkney until the bad weather was over, and 
offered themselves to Thorfin to serve him. 
How they wrought for him at ship-smithying, 
and fought for him in raids on the Scots and 
on rough neighbours, and how they saw many 
a roof burnt and many a limb lopped, and how 
they hunted and drank and quarrelled and 
escaped, all this is not in the story : but no 


doubt they saw life as it was lived, both the 
good and the ill of it, and hardened into sturdy 
lads, fit for the give and take of the world they 
dwelt in. 

When spring was come they took their leave 
of the Orkney folk, and sailed for Iceland : for 
they had a great mind to see what was to 
be seen, and to visit all the homes of their 
kindred, and never come back until they could 
give a good account of their voyage. 

Now Grelaug of Orkney had a cousin out 
there, the daughter of her mother's brother, 
Olaf Feilan. The cousin was named Thora, 
and she was wedded to Thorstein Codbiter, 
the son of Thorolf Mostbeard, who built the 
great temple at Thorsness and was a powerful 
chief among the Icelanders. So Grelaug gave 
the lads a message to Thorstein Codbiter and 
a token to her cousin Thora, nothing doubting 
that it would get them a good welcome. 

When they came to Iceland they asked 
their way to Holyfell, the homestead near the 
temple. It was easy to find, for every one 
knew the name and fame of it : and in a few 
days they came there, sailing Westward and 
Northward round the coast and in Breidafiord: 
but they learned that Thorstein Codbiter was 
dead, drowned in fishing a twelve-month ago 
come harvest-time. Thora was still there, 
keeping house for her child Thorgrim; and 
her brother Thord Gellir was a great man in 
the country-side. So the lads were in no lack 
of friends here as well as heretofore, and made 

hay while the sun shone. 

Their goods were loaded on Thora's beasts, 
and brought up to her house. Thorstein 
Swart, who kept the temple, and stood as 
Godi until Thorgrim the child should grow 
old enough to take the priesthood of his father, 
he fixed the prices, according to custom ; and 
then our lads were free to go about and trade 
with their neighbours. They sold their wares 
to such as wanted them ; and those that would 
not have them at the price fixed, had them 
not at all. 

There was much for a stranger to see in 
Iceland. At Thor's-ness there was the new 
temple, and its high-seats adorned with the 
old carved pillars that came from Norway, and 
that showed the way to Thorolf Mostbeard, 
when first he came off that coast and threw 
them overboard to drift ashore. And there 
was the inner house of the temple, rounded 
like the choir of a church, with the altar-stall, 
and the great ring lying upon it by which 
all oaths were sworn, and the blood-bowl 
and sprinkling-rod for the sacrifices, and the 
images of Thor and the gods standing round 
about. Outside there was the doom-ring with 
the stone of Thor, where men were sacrificed. 

After they had done their business, the 
lads went with a party of their friends from 
Holyfell, riding to the Iceland Althing ; and 
they saw the wonderful valley with the preci- 
pices around and the deep rifts that seam it, 
and the throngs that come together year by 

Y 185 

year into the midst of that waste and terrible 
wilderness of frost and fire. 

But when they were safe returned and had 
taken leave of Thora, they made ready for 
their voyage to Norway : for they had a mind 
to see the old home of their kin, and to come 
before king Hakon the good, the fosterling of 
Athelstan of England. So in the summer, 
when the days were long and seas were 
fair, they sailed east, and came safely to 

CHAPTER ggfflffiBjEgjlMN Throndheim this summer 
XXXI. KINGHEHpl sa1: the young king Hakon, 

HAKON THE^^|^^ newl y come from the West 
rnrm Il^flli$&m8 coun try where he had win- 

\J\J\JU* KM ml OrHSHI r. * "Wlra 111 11 

tered. He had been well 
(received by the Throndheimers, 
for he promised them to get back all those 
rights which his father Harald Fairhair had 
taken away threescore winters ago : and over 
and above that he was a handsome lad and 
well spoken, every inch a king. Earl Sigurd of 
Ladir, the lord of the Throndheim country-side, 
was his great friend, and managed matters for 
him ; so that he came peaceably into the power, 
when his brother Eric Bloodaxe was once 
driven out, and away to England. "He was 
the blithest of all men, and the sweetest spoken 
and the kindest," say the stories: "and he was 
a very wise man, and set forth the laws of the 
people with the help of their wisest men ; and 
in his time there was good peace amidst 
bonders and chapman, so that none did hurt 

to other, nor to other's wealth, and plenteous 
were the seasons both by land and sea." 

So when our lads came over the sea straight 
from Iceland to Throndheim, they found king 
Hakon there, and went before him. He was 
big and strong, and very fair to look on, with 
long curling hair : and he was only of the age 
of sixteen winters, being a little older than 
Thorstein Sweinson and somewhat younger 
than Hundi. 

He asked them many things of their voyage, 
and where they came from, and whither 
bound. And when they had told all their 
story and said they settled to go to England, 
and maybe to see London town, "Then," 
said he, "you will go to my home : for it was 
but last year that I came thence : and ever 
since I can remember anything I have been 
bred up there. I reckon it the best of all 
places, and would gladly live and die there, 
for the sake of king Athelstan my foster- 

" King," said earl Sigurd, " that is bad 
hearing for us Throndheimers, and for all thy 
people of Norway." 

" Nay, good friend," answered Hakon, "thou 
art hasty. For my mind was to say that I 
would fain be in England if I were not called 
hither by the best friends I have." 

King Hakon bade the lads to supper in his 
hall ; and afterwards, when they were beginning 
to drink their cups to Thor and the gods, came 
a page to Hundi and Thorstein where they sat, 


and said, " Guests, if you have drunk enough, 
there is one would speak to you without." 

So they followed him, and came into an 
orchard; and under the apple trees they found 
the young king walking alone in the sunset. 

" Welcome, friends," said he. " I owe you 

" Thanks, king? " said they. 

" Aye : for maybe you had rather sit at table 
with earls and famous men, drinking to the 
gods, than walk here with such as me ? " 

They said that they were glad to walk with 
him, and thought it no loss to leave their 
drinking. " Hush," said he, " say nothing 
over loud ; for here in Norway folk must do as 
folk do. Maybe where you come from, the 
gods are honoured with drinking after supper, 
and with sacrifices at the Thing, and so 
forth ? " 

They said it was so, among most: "But," 
said Thorstein, "though I know not if thou, 
king, wilt take it in good part, many of us 
are no great sticklers for the old faith, and 
some of us " 

" What ? " said the young king eagerly, but 
in a whisper, and looking round to see that 
none were by. " What, lad ?" 

" I was but saying that some of us think 
maybe he they call White Christ is a stronger 
god after all than old Redbeard and the rest 
of them." 

' And thou ? " said Hakon, looking earnestly 
at him. 


"King," said Thorstein, "my father was a 
prime-signed man, and often has he told us the 
story of King Athelstan and his priest, and the 
good words they gave him, and how his own 
mind was one day to forsake the sacrifices. 
But he was a Godi among his neighbours, and 
it was not easy to be open about it, and then 
he died in battle." 

The young king looked at him sorrowfully, 
and thought awhile. " It was not easy to be 
open about it," said he, " and he died in 
battle. Where, think you, is he now?" 

"Nay, king, who can tell? He was a good 
neighbour, and gave every one his due, and 
died like a brave man." 

"Ah, but," said Hakon, leaning back against 
the tree, "I have heard from a book they have 
in England, Whoso denieth me before men, 
him will I deny. That was what the Christ 
said. Oh lads, it is an awful word. It comes 
to me in the night as I lie awake : and then I 
sleep and seem to hear one saying to me, 
Hakon, I died for thee : what wilt thou do for 
me in all this realm of Norway that I have 
given thee ? And then I have spoken to earl 
Sigurd, and he was angry with me, and bade 
me hold my peace, or lose everything. Oh, it 
is hard to be open about it, and yet " 

" King," said Thorstein, "I am but a young- 
ster, and I have never heard sayings spoken 
out of books, nor even talked with a mass-priest. 
But I have a dear friend, and she had a cross 
that she prayed to : and one day she sold the 


cross for my sake when I was in danger. And 
when I asked her how she would pray, seeing 
she had no cross to pray to, she said that there 
was an old man whom she had seen after she 
had sold it, who bade her take comfort, for, 
said he, the God of the Christians, they call 
him the Lord, looketh at the heart. These 
were the words." 

" Aye," said Hakon, "that is in the book." 

" Is it?" said Thorstein. " Well, king, and 
if thy heart is with that Lord, is not all right ? " 

The lad Hakon took the lad Thorstein in 
his arms, and kissed his cheek. " Brother," 
he said, "I brought you lads here to preach to 
you, and you have preached to me a better 
word than any since I was taken away from 
home to be a stranger among my own people, 
and an outcast from all kindly Christian men 
among the heathen. You have preached to 
me ; will you pray with me? " 

They understood nothing of what he said: 
but he knelt in the twilight on the grass, hidden 
among the orchard trees, while the shouting of 
the Bragi-cup was heard from the windows of 
the hall. They knelt beside him, and he said 
in a low voice, and as if sobbing, the Lord's 

Then he stood up radiant and joyful. 
"Brothers," he said, "stay by me here, and 
help me. I will give you all your heart can 
wish, only stay and help me in this terrible 
loneliness. We together will win the realm 
for the Christ ; or, if we must, die like the 

blessed saints and martyrs, and go to be with 
him in heaven." 

Thorstein looked at the beautiful face, aglow 
with earnestness. 

" King," he said, " I will slay thy foes for 
thee, and spend my heart's blood for thee. 
And I will take thy faith, and break Thor 
down from the temple yonder, if thou wilt." 

" Hush, dear lad," said Hakon, suddenly 
bethinking himself, and looking round with 
the old fear: "Hush, not yet. Oh, it is hard 
to know what to do. And there is no one to 
tell me. We must be gentle with them, and 
win them one by one : we must speak to them 
the words of life, and pray for them, and teach 

Thorstein shook his head. " I could fight 
them, or some of them," said he. "But as to 
words of life, king, if they be the teaching of 
priests, I know nothing, for I am not even 

"Ah, I forgot," said Hakon. 
But you will not betray me. I 
your good will, and I love you for your good 
words : but it is other help I need. You are 
going to England, lucky lads. Do an errand 
for me." 

They said they would do anything for him. 

"Then go to Bishop Aelfheah at Winchester; 
and tell him that his son Hakon remembers 
his teaching, and that he has sent two brothers 
of his to be christened. Take this token " 
(and he gave them a little cross which he drew 


" I am hasty, 
thank you for 


out from his bosom) "and he will receive you. 
And then, if your mind is to come hither 
again, think of me and the work I have to 
do. Again and again I thank you. Come 
to-morrow; but not a word to any soul of 
our speech together, if you love me." 

They went to their quarters for the night, 
and though they saw the king again it was 
only when others were by. In a few days 
came some of the king's men with a rare gift 
for them, and a message bidding them take the 
fair wind before it fell. So they made ready 
and sailed out of Throndheim firth, and down 
the coast : and when they had coasted Norway 
they stood out West over sea and sailed for 

last they were come to 
iGrimsby at the mouth of the 
Humber, and thence the way 
is plain, what with river and 
[what with road, to York, and 
>ver the Keel into Cumberland, 
and so home. And indeed the lads had a 
thought to lay up their ship and take the 
journey forth and back to see how their folk 
were getting on, and Thorstein especially to 
ask after Raineach. But for three reasons 
they determined to withhold themselves : first 
that they had resolved to sail all round Britain 
and never go home until they could tell their 
tale : and next that king Eric Bloodaxe, the 
new king of York, who kept the place under 
king Athelstan, was no friend to Hakon, and 

awful tales were told about his queen, Gunn- 
hild the witch, so that they had no desire to 
put themselves in his power : and last, that 
they could not for shame forego their errand 
upon which Hakon had sent them. 

So they sailed round the coast until they 
came to the Thames, and up to London. Off 
Billingsgate they were stopped by the boats 
of the officers, who brought them before the 
port-reeve : and when they had told him their 
names and business, and paid toll in four 
silver pennies, they were free to dwell there. 
As it was now late in the year they sought a 
lodging in the house of a Northman whom 
they met : and in order that they might buy 
and sell, and go freely among the Londoners, 
he brought them to a priest at the door of a 
church, who made upon them the sign of the 
cross, so that they should be prime-signed 
men, until they might find bishop Aelfheah 
and get christening at his hands. 

At Yule was the Witan held at Westminster, 
and earls and thanes and bishops flocked 
together; and among them the man they 
sought. Then they had their desire and did 
their errand to him, giving him the token of 
the cross and the message of the young king. 
The bishop wept over the tale, for joy that 
Hakon still bore in mind his teaching, and 
for sorrow that he should be out there alone 
among the heathen. "And yet," said he, "is it 
not written, Behold, I send you forth as lambs 
among wolves ? May the Lord grant his young 
z 193 

child the wisdom of the serpent and the harm- 
lessness of the dove, and in due time give him 
to see of the travail of his soul." 

Then the lads asked that they might be 
christened : and the bishop gave them in charge 
to one of his priests, who taught them as much 
as it was needful to know : and afterwards 
they were baptised. But when they spoke of 
going back to Norway, he smiled and said, 
" It is other help than yours that Hakon needs. 
You have done well in bringing this message, 
and no better news could be brought. As for 
his heart's desire, I take you two as the first- 
fruits of it. Do you depart in peace, to be 
shining lights in your own land. Without 
doubt when Hakon is established in his 
kingdom he will send for priests fitted to teach 
his people, and never fear but there will be 
labourers for the harvest." 

And here we may say that old stories tell 
how the bishop died some seven years after 
this, and was worshipped as a prophet and a 
saint. But the young king spoke first to one 
and then to another of his own friends and 
those about him in Norway, and without any 
other help of man, won them over to the 
Christian faith : and when many were thus 
converted he ventured to send for priests, and 
to hold open worship. But he was overborne by 
the common people, who would have nothing 
to do with the new doctrines. So for many a 
long year it was a struggle between them ; and 
every man that the king won over he counted 

gain ; and every time the Throndheimers forced 
king Hakon to come to their sacrifices and 
share their feasts they reckoned it gain to their 
side, even if they had done no more than make 
him smell the steam of the horse-flesh aboiling 
in Thor's kettle. But for such backsliding as 
this the king blamed himself in secret, and 
went on in life-long fear of the doom of a 
castaway; hoping from year to year that 
things would turn out so that he might lay 
aside his crown, and become a monk, and end 
his days in penitence. But his rule was so 
good that his people would not let him go ; and 
yet he still found it hard to be open about it, 
and at last died in battle, and was buried by 
the heathen with a great burial as if he had 
been one of them. 

Now when the spring was come, Hundi and 
Thorstein took their leave, and sailed out of 
the Thames and round the South coast, calling 
as they went at one port and another by the 
way, and always increasing their store; until 
they came at last to Bristol, which was the 
great slave-market for the Irish trade in those 
days, and a thriving city. And thence they 
sailed down the Severn to those settlements of 
Northmen at Tenby and Milford and Haver- 
ford ; and so up the coast of Bretland, as they 
then called Wales, in whose firths, as in those 
of Morecambe and Solway, may a viking had 
refuged, betwixt Lund-ey and Orm's Head. 
From Orm's Head it was but a short passage 
to the bay of Morecambe : and by now they 







were wearied of seafaring, and longed for home. 
And as they sailed briskly by the shores of 
Amounderness over the tossing green waves, 
Thorstein felt himself already in the arms of 
his lass ; and the spray from the the bows 
where he sat, with half shut eyes, seemed like 
her hair blown about his face. At last the 
Black Comb rose over the sea-line higher and 
higher, and then the green woods, and then 
the yellow sands. There was Ravenside, there 
was Barehead's-edge, there was the bonny 
Leven between its dear old hills. 

"Eh, mother and Orm and all, its right good 
to be home again:" says Thorstein heartily; 
"but where is she?" 

Orm turned on his heel and went out. Unna 
kissed Thorstein. There were tears in her 

PILT milk, they said. His 
mother assured him of it. Orm 
nodded aye, it was so; and the 
thralls, men and maids, cried 
" What, master Thorstein is 
bad to suit : there's mays in 
plenty and bonny ones too, for a well-favoured 
young man like thee to light on." 

Raineach had run away, and Orm, the good 
brother, had followed to fetch her back. He 
had tracked her with difficulty to the ship- 
strand near Ulfar's town. There he had seen 
her aboard a merchant ship, and there he had 
spoken to her, and she had laughed and waved 
her hands. And that very night a storm had 

come, and the ship had gone down with all 
aboard : not a doubt of it there was ; he 
could ask any one about the great storm two 
winters ago was haytime ; and as for this ship, 
why folk at Ravenside were still using the 
wreckage of her for fire-elding, or were doing 
so in winter. And the worst of it was that the 
finest of Thorstein's clothes and jewels, the 
things he had saved and left under Raineach's 
charge against the wedding, were all awanting, 
to the amount that a body might bundle up 
and carry off without other hands or help. 

Again the mother said " She bade me fare- 
well:" and the servants said "We spied her 
start:" and Orm said "I called to her on 
board, and she would not come back:" and 
they all swore to the storm and the ship-wreck 
as matters of common knowledge. 

"Humph," said Hundi Snail. "I did'nt 
think she'd have done it." 

Thorstein was quite beaten down, and had 
nothing to say. He went to Ravenside, and 
saw folk burning bits of the wreck that ran 
upon their sands two years ago last haytime. 
They remembered it well, and how the ship folk 
yelled, and what a crowd of corpses drifted 
ashore next morning ; and oh aye, there was a 
lass with red hair among them no doubt : aye, 
bonny lasses and all. 

" She's gone, sure enough, poor thing," 
said Hundi : " but I dont understand it, 

" Nor I," said Unna, 


" Maybe," said Orm, " she had some notion 
of meeting with Thorstein. She was always 
having inklings of one thing and another, 
what with dreams, what with fancies. And 
maybe she was taking the gear to make her 
wedding with him, for she seemed a bit nicked 
in the head. I would'nt call it stealing: what's 
mine is thine, the saying is." 

"It's kind of thee, Orm, to speak up for 
her," said Thorstein: "above all, when I think 
she didn't suit thee over well." 

" Humph, " said Hundi, " very kind of 

When the seafarers' tale was told, and all 
their goods shown, who but Hundi and Thor- 
stein were the pride of the place ? Folk came 
from far and near and they said that it was 
none but their own lads would go up and down 
the round world, starting as youngsters with 
nought to speak of, and landing home great 
strapping men who had supped with kings and 
fought with earls 

"And courted the kings' daughters, and 
kissed the the earls' sisters," added a saucy 

" And brought home a shipload that would 
be worth, I reckon, about twice their father's 
stock, beasts, thralls, and all." 

" Well, father, we always said Thorstein 
Sweinson was a good lad and would turn out 
well." For here was mistress Asdis Asmund's 
daughter of Asmundarlea over the fell, as blithe 
as ever, and bonnier, if that could be : anyway 

more womanly grown, with a little motherly 
manner towards Thorstein, as if she were very 
sorry for him, least said soonest mended ; 
but she would make him forget it after a while, 
and then. There was nobody but was thankful 
to her : for they had been dreading the day of 
his return and fearing how he would take it. 
But Asdis was that clever, she twisted them all 
round her ringers, and him in particular, as 
wankle as a wet sark. 

If Thorstein was moody and dismal, and he 
was that, Hundi was jolly enough for both. 
To be home again after a three years' voyage, 
and to be made much of wherever he went, 
and to be master of his half share in that 
rich cargo, let alone the ship and boat-stock, 
all this made him welcome at every neighbour's. 
As to his christening, they said he could suit 
himself; it seemed that it meant money any- 
how. And so it was no surprise when Hundi 
begged his brothers to don their best clothes 
and come with him to Mansriggs awooing : 
nor when, after the handfasting, he took land 
up the Crake, and began to build him a house 
against the wedding. 

Thorstein was glad of the job, and worked 
right hard for Hundi : and before Yule they had 
the rearing-supper, and at Yule the wedding- 
feast ; and started housekeeping merrily, with 
a full larder and the best of good will from all. 
Thorstein went to live with them as foreman 
of the farm, and there was a deal to do this 
winter, clearing land and getting ready a 


thwaite for tilling. In the spring Hundi meant 
to buy beasts, and pasture them in the fell; 
and meanwhile he had plenty to live on. 

Halldora Mani's daughter was the name of 
the bride. She was a right good sort ; and 
Hundi was that fond of her, and she of him, 
that Thorstein could not but laugh, many's the 
time, as they three sat together by the new 
hearth of nights. But if he laughed, he would 
fetch a deep sigh, and then take a turn up and 
down the floor : and Halldora would get off 
the knees of her good-man and go to Thorstein 
and bid him pluck up heart : and she would 
take his arm and walk up and down a bit with 
him. Then Hundi calls out from the hearth, 
laughing, " Now, mistress, no carryings on 
with my brother : it's me is thy man ! " 

" Never fear," she answers coming back to 
him. " The poor boy is sore at heart. And 
pity it is, when the finest lass in the country- 
side would take him at the first word." 

"What? Asdis?" 

" Aye would she. Many's the time she has 
told me that she meant to get him, too. And I 
am sure there is no cleverer, nor bonnier, nor 
better bred. He might do a deal worse." 


HO knows what plots and 
plans were laid, and all with 
the best intentions ? The up- 
shot of it was, one fine day 
appears Asdis herself, with men 
and maids, come to visit her 
dear friend Halldora in the new house. For 

three days it was " O Thorstein, how well you 
boys have managed ! what a fine house ! what 
bonny gear ! what a sweet spot! " and so forth. 
And everything was Thorstein's doing, as if he 
had built the fells and rigged the very sky 

" Heigho ! " she sighed, when Hundi and 
Halldora had left them alone, "it's bad to be 

" Who's illfavoured ? " said Thorstein. 

" Not Halldora, in her own house at home : 
and with a man of her own fit to kiss the 
ground she steps on." 

" I warrant Hundi is a lucky fellow : but the 
mistress of Asmundarlea must be ill to suit if 
she waits a day longer than she likes." 

" That's your London talk, Thorstein : 
thou'st gitten o'er fine for us hereaway." 

" Never say so. Nay, Asdis : there's not an 
earl of the Northmen nor an English thane 
would be o'er fine for thee." 

She rewarded him with a very sweet smile. 

"What, we are old friends, lass, are we 

" Aye, neighbour Thorstein," and she gave 
him another smile and a blush. 

" And I always spoke well of thee, even to 
her to her that's gone." 

" Nay, was it so ? Poor lass, she's gone. 
Often have I wished I had managed to make 
friends with her : it was my fault." 

"What was thy fault? That you were not 
friends? Nay Asdis: it was thou that was 

AA 201 

good to her, but she, poor thing, she couldn't 

"Ah, Thorstein, if there's goodness anywhere 
it's in thee. And well I know that after her 
the rest of us are nought." 

" My dear, it's years she's gone ; and it's 
months I have greeted for her : and now my 
heart is like a stone." 

" Poor lad." 

Her voice was like the cooing of doves in 
the wood, and the tears were in her eyes : for 
she was as fond of him as she could be of 
anyone. And then she was so pretty. 

It was a few days after Asdis was gone that 
Hundi was late in his chamber, though their 
porridge stood ready for breakfast : and when 
he came, "What, man," cried Thorstein, "it's 
no Thing to-day : and thou with thy best 
clothes donned." 

" Well, lad," answered Hundi, " it's a fine 
morning, and I just thought mayhappen we 
might be riding over to Asmundarlea, and I 
might as well be ready first as last." 

Thorstein blushed. " I don't care if I do," 
said he. 

" Well said," cried Halldora clapping her 
hands. " Here, sup thy pottage, Thorstein, 
good lad : and then don thy red silk kirtle 
that ye bought in Londonburg. No lass could 
say nay to thee in that." 

So by noon they were at Greenodd door to 
ask Orm to go with them. For it was the 
custom when a man went a-wooing to take all 

his folk with him ; not only to show that 
everything was fair and above-board, and to 
have witnesses of the word given on both sides, 
but also to show what good friends and kins- 
folk he had to back him. For in times when 
wealth was held only by the strong hand, the 
best of havings was a good following of friends 
and friendly neighbours who would see one 
righted if need was. 

But Orm said he was throng and could not 
come : and when they pressed him, he would 
not ; and Unna said there was no need, for 
she warranted the job was no hard one to 
manage. So Hundi and Thorstein, with all 
their ship-crew, and all the farm servants that 
could be spared, rode over the fell, and knocked 
at Asmund's door. 

They sat in the hall, and Asdis served them 
meat and drink, and Asmund sat in his high 
seat and talked of this and that, as though 
nobody knew on what errand they might be 
bound. It was an open winter: they settled 
that. And king Athelstan was dead : they 
talked that over. And folk seemed to take the 
new king, Eadmund they called him, a deal 
quieter than was expected. " Aye, " said 
Asmund, " now is the time for decent quiet 
folk to be setting up house and settling down." 
"Well, master," says Hundi, "it is a 
job of that make brings us hither. My brother 
Thorstein here has made up his mind seemingly 
to take land and build house, the same as I 
have done : and he has the money, and the 


means, and all he wants is the mistress. And 
we were just thinking that if thy daughter 
could be spared, and if she would take to it 
kindly, she might happen do worse than settle 
down with my brother : and I am sure there's 
nought but he would do for her to make her 
happy ; and as to money matters, ye can suit 

Then master Asmund put on his sober face, 
and hemmed, and said, " Well, neighbour, it's 
a fair offer : but it's not for me to say aye or nay 
until we have spoken with the lass." 

By this time the servants had fetched in 
Asdis, who had slipped out, as was proper, 
when things began to look like business. And 
there she was, blushing and rosy, standing by 
her father's seat, and plucking at her apron. 

" Well, lass, and what are we to say? Wilt 
thou take the young man Thorstein Sweinson ? 
For that's the job they have come about." 

" Nay, father, it's not for me to say." 

" Come, come, lass : that means aye?" 

" As you please, father : and as it pleases 
Master Thorstein Sweinson. I am sure it is a 
great honour for the likes of me." 

Then Asmund sent out to the neighbours, 
bidding them to a handfasting or betrothal 
feast, which should be held next day : and 
until then Hundi and Thorstein and their com- 
pany were well entertained at Asmundarlea. 
In this while they talked over the dowry that 
Asdis should have from her father, and the 
settlement she should have from her husband, 

and when the wedding should be, and so 

When the neighbours were come, they bade 
them listen to the business on hand, and told 
them what had been done on both sides. Then 
Thorstein went over to where Asmund sat, and 
Asmund put his daughter's hand into the hand 
of Thorstein, who said aloud "We call upon all 
to witness that thou Asdis Asmund's daughter 
dost lawfully pledge thyself to me Thorstein 
Sweinson, with dowry due and holden hands, 
to finish and fulfil our whole agreement both 
trusted and true. This handfasting is fairly 

And so the wooing of Asdis was accomplished. 

JUNDI sat on his own howe, CHAPTER 
and Thorstein with him. They XXXV. HOW 
were looking out for neighbours THORSTEIN 
who were to come by the old TOOK 
path from Broughton beck to LAND. 
(Lowick, and to the new house- 
hold where Hundi and Halldora were master 
and mistress. 

" Dost thou mind when we were barns, 
brother, how we sat here and parted hence ? 
Seven winters have gone since we planned to 
keep house away yonder;" and he pointed 
upbank, where the Crake came down between 
the crags on the right and the Blawith, the 
blue wood as they called it, of dark firs 
mantling the long slopes of the lower banks, 
on the left. And far beyond were the great 
fells that surrounded the head of Thorstein's 


water, this Coniston lake that he, first of 
Northmen, had found. 

The neighbours for whom they waited were 
coming to be witnesses to Thorstein's land- 
taking. It was the custom for settlers of 
uninhabited land to go round a tract of country, 
as much as they could encompass in a day, 
carrying fire, and lighting from point to point 
beacons which might be seen one from another. 
And when this was done with proper witnesses 
like any other deed of law, the land became the 
possession of that landtaker and his heirs for 
ever. Now up the Crake valley, above Lowick 
where Hundi had settled, there were no 
inhabitants at this time : whatever fell-folk 
used to hunt in the woods and fish in the 
waters dwelt upon the moors on either hand. 
It was Thorstein's mind to take all that upper 
valley between Lowick and the water-foot ; 
and he had bidden his neighbours, from 
Asmundarlea especially, and from Mansriggs, 
and round about, to come and bear witness, so 
that there might be no dispute thenceforward, 
and that he and Asdis and his heirs might 
dwell there undisturbed in lawful freehold. 

It was early in the morning of a bright frosty 
day, when the days were already a good bit 
longer than at Yule, that Thorstein and Hundi 
and his neighbours were already out, and at 
the bounds of Hundi's land before the sun was 
up. There was a company of half a score or 
so, dressed in their woodland dress of rough 
homespun, with axes in their hands ; and 

^Te j^CnisfanRlIs from Iwick^&Qfy&t 

Thorstein himself carrying an iron pot with A PICTURE OF 
burning peat in it. They stood by the brink THE LAND 
of the stream a little above Lowick force, and TAKEN BY 
stamped their feet on the crispy sedges of the THORSTEIN. 
marsh-ground, until the sun should be up ; 
munching the remains of the hasty breakfast 
they had left, in order to be in good time and 
to make the most of the winter day. When 
the edge of the fell to the eastward blazed, and 
the sun began to get above the silver fringe of 
trees, a shapeless point of fire, " Away with us, 
friends," cried Thorstein ; and they made a 
move for the fell where the sun was standing, 
and started upbank through the trees that 
clothed it, and over the scree that lay between. 
Here and there they had to hew their way 


through the underwood, and where that was 
not needed, they marked the trees with great 
notches, in order to leave no doubt of the 
boundary they had beaten. 

As they passed along through the forest, 
where every leaf was laced with rirne, and the 
frozen twigs crackled underfoot, beast and bird 
fled before the noise of their axes and the loud 
talk and laughter of the merry company. "A 
grand hunting-spot for Thorstein the hunter," 
says one. "Oh man," says another, "there 
went somewhat I'd be fain to follow." " Never 
heed it, friend," said Thorstein ; " business is 
business. Wait till my house is built, and 
then I'll show thee a day's hunting, and the 
tricks I learned with the fell-folk." 

When they came out on the ridge, they 
could overlook the whole valley, and down 
into the next where Colton stands, and south- 
ward away to Legbarrow. Here some of them 
began to cut elding and logs to build a balefire, 
and others rolled up a huge boulder to be 
planted on end for a meer-stone or land-mark. 
And when the fire blazed up, they lost no time, 
but set out again along the ridge, up and down, 
until at last they came to a high place over- 
looking the foot of Thorstein's water. To most 
of them the sight was wholly strange, well known 
as it was to him. The mere was just as he 
had seen it seven years before ; just as quiet 
and as wild ; only now it lay dark blue 
between its white promontories; the shores 
were disguised with shelves of ice that stood 

far out into the ripple, and countless birds flew 
screaming about over the open spaces, or dived 
and settled in flocks. 

On this high point, for the morning was 
beginning to wear, they built another bale- 
fire, and set up another meer-stone ; and then 
picked their way down to the water-foot, where 
they came about mid-day, travelling but slowly, 
for the way was hard to find, and rough. At 
the crossing of Crake, where mere ends and 
beck begins, they ate hastily the bannocks they 
had brought with them ; and Thorstein, wading 
into the shallows with his fire-pot in one hand 
and a brand lighted at it in the other, cast the 
brand into the water; and as it floated hissing, 
cried out, " I take you to witness that this 
water and all its snores, oyce and ere, dub 
and deep, are hereby in my holding." 

Then they started again along the western 
bank, and so up into the moor, where they 
built another beacon and set another meer-stone. 
But here Thorstein bade them turn, for he said 
that thence-beyond he reckoned he would be 
within the bounds of old friends, namely the 
fell-folk of Heathwaite. And he would have 
no disputes with them. " For we Northmen," 
said he, " have land enough in the wooded 
bottoms, and can well afford to leave the 
moor-tops to the wild folk who dwell there." 

So they came round in a great half-moon 

under the brow of the moor, leaving the heather 

and enclosing the woods : and at last by 

sunsetting they were back again where they 

BB 209 

started from. Thorstein took them to wit- 
ness that he had lawfully carried fire around 
untenanted land, and the land was thenceforth 
his and his only. And so after due feasting 
at Hundi's, the neighbours went their ways : 
and Thorstein, with such as were in his service, 
began the building of his house. 

On the slope of the great blue fir-wood, that 
rose to a howe behind and fell to the Crake 
in front, beside a little beck, they cleared 
a thwaite, and made the timber of it into 
a house. It was no long job to skilled 
wood-wrights, and with plenty of hands; for 
Thorstein's wealth got him all he wanted, 
what with buying thralls, and hiring free men 
who lay by the fire for the most part in winter. 
The house was like the Greenodd house ; a 
great hall with little chambers built along each 
side of it for bed-chambers; high roofed and 
thatched with broom ; and the walls, where 
the roughly squared logs left chinks open to 
the wind, daubed with clay and roughcast. A 
few outbuildings, byres, and sheds, were put 
up to begin with ; and round about the whole 
a turf wall was raised, to keep out wild beasts 
and to make some stand against enemies, if 
such should ever appear. But who would 
expect foes in so lone and peaceful a spot ? 

By cuckoo-tide, or Gowk-month as the 
Northmen called it, the house was standing, 
and wanted but little ; and that chiefly what 
a body might do after the flitting. And on the 
right flitting-days, that is to say about Whit- 

suntide as we should caH it, they began to 
move goods into the house, carrying in first 
of all the salt and meal, and starting a fire 
upon the hearth. Since beds and benches 
were built there as fixtures, there was little to 
carry in the way of moveable furniture, and 
what there was came in kists on horseback. 
And when all was flitted, there was nought to 
hinder the wedding. 

N the day appointed, Thorstein CHAPTER 
and his men, dressed in their XXXVI. THE 
[best, to make all the show WEDDING 
they could, and carrying food OF 
,and drink, rode out a good way THORSTEIN 
from the house to meet the 
bride, who came riding with her father and 
kinsfolk and bridesmaids by the old path to 
Lowick. At the border of Thorstein's land 
they met, and alighting from their horses ate 
and drank to the good luck of the place they 
were come to. Then they made their pro- 
cession, two and two on horseback, by the 
woodland path that led them through the 
Blawith. The bride and bridegroom rode 
together at the head of the procession, and 
right glad was Thorstein to think that at last 
he would have house and wife of his own. 

" Well, sweetheart," said he, " and now it's 

" Is it always like this ? " said she. " One 
would say it does nought but rain in your 

" No such thing," said he; "whiles it snows. 


But never mind ; there's a warm hearth hard 
by. Thy riding cape will soon dry on the 

" Like a man ! to put my cape in the soot 
indeed. And what for a road call you this ? 
Who will ever come to visit one, away here ?" 

"Oh, there's Halldora; she's a good neigh- 
bour, and no pleasanter visitor could we have." 

" I'm thinking there's been a deal of Halldora 

"Well," said he, "come, Asdis, it'll be all 
right when we get there. See, yonder's the 
little house." 

If the day was dull and cheerless, bright 
lights were shining through the windows that 
evening, and a plentiful feast was made in 
Blawith hall. In the chief high-seat was set 
Master Asmund, and beside him the neighbours 
who had been bidden to the wedding. Over 
against him the bridegroom sat in his high-seat, 
with his men on either hand : and on the 
bride-bench, set across the hall at the upper 
end, was the bride, all dressed in white linen, 
with a high white cap and a white veil hanging 
down her back, with a silver brooch on her 
brow, a gold necklace at her throat, and house- 
wife's keys clattering at her girdle. Beside her 
sat the bridesmaids and her friends, with Unna 
and Halldora on the right hand and the left. 

After they were set and the feast was well 
begun, Thorstein rose and went across the hall 
to his bride, and gave her for a bench-gift 
a cloak lined with rare furs and richly 

embroidered. Then they drank to him and 
his bride, wishing them luck and long life, 
and with all the lights lit saw them to their 
lock-bed chamber ; at the door of which her 
father Asmund gave her with a fitting word 
into her husband's keeping. 

The next morning, as the custom was, the 
marriage settlements were finished. Thorstein 
made over to Asmund the gifts that had been 
agreed upon, and Asmund put them in the 
keeping of the bride, to be her own property. 
And folk said that Thorstein had done well 
by Asmund's daughter, and that no lass of 
those parts could wish for a better husband. 
Then they went on to keep the wedding for 
three days with feasting and games and every 
pleasure that could be got for them. But still 
it rained, and they took to playing indoors, 
mating men, and wrestling in the hall, and 
skin-pulling across the fire spot, and draught- 
playing, and story-telling, and song-singing, 
and all that a body might do to pass the time. 

But before the three days of the feast were 
well over, came a loud rapping at the door, 
and there stood a man holding the arrow to 
bid them to the midsummer Althing, which 
was to be in some three weeks. They made 
him welcome to the wedding, for they were 
fain of somewhat new. 

" Nay," said he, " I reckon you will think 
twice of your welcome when you hear me out." 

" Why so? " cried they all. 

" For the reason that our bonny bridegroom 


here will have to choose between a far journey 
and a fair bride, unless he stands out of the 
play, and I doubt he will never do that. At 
last, neighbours, there is a chance of some 
ado, and that speedily, if you take the counsel 
of them that sent me. You must know that 
when King Athelstan died, no hand was raised 
against him that followed, Eadmund etheling 
that was, king that is : and all things seemed 
to be even as they had been. But why or 
how I know not, Eadmund could never abide 
Northmen, and in especial he hates king Eric, 
him they call Bloodaxe, whom Athelstan had 
set over York. So when the word came to 
York that Eric was like to be turned out of his 
place, he never waited for Eadmund, but went 
forth and sailed away out of the Humber: and 
men say that he has gone north to Orkney 
where Arnkell and Erlend Einarsons are his 

"Like to like," says Thor stein; "and a good 
riddance too." 

"That's as it turns out. For it's ill mending 
bad with worse. The York folk seemingly 
think any change lightsome, if its nobut out 
of bed into beck, as the old body said. What 
have they done but send to Dublin bidding 
Olaf Guthferthson " 

" Plague on it," says Thorstein : " if it had 
been old Thorfin, or young Hakon, but a 

" Hear me, I say. Olaf the Dane, being of 
the old stock of Ivarsons, is bidden to take 

the power : and that speedily, before the young 
king can step in. And as Eadmund is but a 
lad of eighteen winters and no more, it is 
thought the Danes will have a chance of 
setting up once again in England, Now the 
Cumberland Welsh mislike it, and our friends 
thereaway mislike it : but they look to see the 
whole job done in the twinkling of an eye. 
And for you, if you have anything to say about 
it, now is your time." 

So they asked what was to be done : and he 
said that it was likely Olaf would come in with 
no very great following, by the old road from 
Ellenburg through Cumberland; and Domh- 
naill was to be there to meet him, but whether 
as friend or foe was yet to be seen. And if 
the Northmen wished to have a hand in the 
matter, they should be at their Thing-stead at 
once, to take counsel with themselves and their 
neighbours, and to be ready for Olaf by the 
time he came into the defensible road among 
the fells. 

" What, Thorstein," said Asdis, " you are 
never going on this fool's errand, and me 
nought but half wed?" 

" Why, lass, it is but a three days' run, and 
I'll be back again in a hop, skip and jump." 

Something seemed to come before him as he 
spoke: as when in a dream one says, "All this 
I have dreamt before." Then he remembered; 
and turned away. 


CHAPTER [yu^uMBg^g||1ND so, friends," said King 
XXXVII. Bi^g^^^^nB|pomhnaill, ending his speech, 

THORSTEIN wM ^9ffw| we betake ourselves to the 
SEES ffllf^^W H k reat road under Blencathra, 

GHOSTS. |^^^^^ and if the men f Athacliath 
jggg|^g^2Q|come in peace, it shall be peace : 

but if in war, war let it be." 

Then all the Northmen took their weapons 
and shouted aye to what he had said : and the 
meeting broke up, and men moved away in 
groups towards the deep dale that led northward 
from Legburthwaite. Some sought their horses, 
and some were for lading their gear: and 
everything was in hurry and turmoil. 

" Hundi," said Thorstein, leaning on his 
brother's shoulder, " Seest thou yon fell ? they 
call it the Benn in their tongue, the fell-folk : 
and up yonder are the houses where the beauty 
lives : and behind it is the giant's castle, where 
I was with with her that's gone. Little did 
I think when we fled away over fells and dells 
and mountain moors, how it would end with 
all of us." 

" Leave thy maundering, man, and come 
to see what uproar is yonder," said Hundi ; 
for among the men left behind by the main 
guard there were shrieks and shouts, that 
seemed to mean no good. It was but a step, 
and they found among the rough followers of 
Domhnaill, struggling and crying, who but 
Aluinn ? whom they rescued, not without hard 
knocks. But still she went on like one wild, 
and it was long before they could get reasonable 

speech out of her. As they led her away, sore 
against her will it seemed, in spite of the 
mishandling she had got, they heard her story 
bit by bit. 

What came out was this ; that she had gone 
like any other to the camp where the Welsh 
king lay, and coming to his tent door was for 
marching in. Who but she had the right, 
indeed ? But within was another woman, with 
two sturdy lads at her knees, and a fair woman 
too. " Who is this ? " says the woman. 
"Who is this?" says Aluinn, and shows the 
collar of gold that certain lover once gave her. 
With that the wife bids her begone for a slut ; 
and then Aluinn gives her words, and gets to 
blows : when in comes Domhnaill with little 
love in his looks, and to make short work of 
it, turns her out to his rascals. 

"The nithing!" cries Hundi. Thorstein 
said little, but set his teeth and growled, 
remembering what was heard and said at 

But when the fell-folk that dwelt about 
Armboth heard the tale, Aluinn's own neigh- 
bours whose pet and pride she was, you may 
guess if they vowed vows and threatened 
threats. As they shook their weapons Hundi 
plucked his brother by the sleeve. " We do 
no good here," said he, "and may come to 
harm. Hie thy ways along with me, or we 
are shamed men at the tryst." So they got 
off without leavetaking, and footed it down the 
dale that now we call the vale of St. John : for 
cc 217 

their nags were, gone in the tumult, and not a 
soul in sight. 

Along the old road they passed, bemired as 
it was with the trampling of man and horse in 
that foul weather, and at every wath the beck 
was a torrent. But since the track lay fairly 
high on the fell-side it lay dry, if aught was 
dry, and was not lost in swamp like the flats 
in middale. In the space of an hour or two 
they spied a great flickering of weapons and 
things waving under Blencathra, and guessed 
that the kings had already met, and spoken 
each other fair, and were now settling down 
for the night : for they could spy tents going 
up and smoke starting. And so in a while 
they were among their friends, supping and 
singing round a fire in the open, until men 
dropped off one by one to sleep where they 

But Thorstein slept little for thinking of 
Aluinn and her wrongs. She was as it were a 
ghost of his old life come back from the dead, 
and little ease it was to think of those times, 
and then again of these. For, thinking of 
Aluinn, he could not but think of Raineach 
who was dead : and how he had loved her, 
and how fain he would be if he could but get 
the sight of her face once more. " Ah my 
dear," he cried, half aloud, and opened his 
arms and turned over on his side, for his heart 
was sore within him. But only the heap of 
snoring soldiers lay around, under Blencathra 
and the lowering cloud. And yet, what was 

that face that flitted over the heap, gleaming 
in the red glow ? 

His blood ran cold to the finger-tips, and he 
clenched his hands. He had wished, and his 
wish had come to pass. It was her ghost, 
he thought: for ghosts come when they are 
called. The hair tingled on his head, he was 
so terrified. Then he shut his eyes tight, 
and drew up his knees, and doubled his arms 
over his face, and lay there for a while, still 
as a hedgehog when it is scared, and curls 
itself up. 

At last the terror began to die away. He 
said to himself that it was but his own thoughts 
his eyes had seen ; and he could not help 
looking again. There was a gap in the clouds, 
and a star. The fire was not so bright. 
Nothing did he see beyond the men who lay 
around, though he fixed his eyes on the spot 
where the vision had been, as if he dared it to 
come again. But it came not. By and by 
there was a stir behind him, as of the wind 
rising in the trees. He turned sharply round, 
and there! 

But it was gone again : and once more he 
lay quaking, with cold in all his limbs, and in 
his heart an agony which he could not under- 
stand, like a child when it is beaten for 
something it has not done, and cannot tell 
the truth : blank misery as when one is utterly 
spent with sickness. He lay staring at .the 
black cloud overhead, and it was an ugly thing 
coiling over him. He shut his eyes and 


dreamed over the days of long ago : of the 
wild, proud slip of a girl that hunted and 
fished with him at Greenodd : of the poor little 
ugly, blubbered face that leaned over his, when 
he was a child captive in the giant's hut on the 
fells ; the tears that made dirty water-courses 
among the freckles, how he remembered them, 
and every eager feature he had loathed at first 
and loved ever after. He brought to mind 
how he had opened his eyes after his sickness, 
wearily and lazily ; and then ! 

CHAPTER |^^|^ F T| USH ''' she said > "don't crush 
XXXVIII. t|igE8BQS^iTB me * or we s ^ a ^ stumble over 
RAINEACH'S ^Sttj^^miayon snoring swine. Hither, 
STORY. ^ra^^^^^|lad : away with me. Into the 

' dost thou mind, 

Thorstein ? Why, what a man thou hast 
grown ! But I knew I should tell thee among 
them all, wolf-dark as it was. Kiss me, Thor- 
stein. Am I woman enough for thee now? 
Am I bonny? Folk say so; but I'd have none 
but thee, heart of mine. Thorstein, Thorstein : 
my boy, my little hurt beaten boy ! Ah, but I 
will comfort thee. Laugh lad, never greet : 
kiss me. Oh Thorstein, kill me not : I am 
only a woman, and thou art a great strong 

" The queen told me about thee. They say 
she wept for a day and a night when thou wast 
gone, until Olaf the carle gave her a slap and 
bade her be merry. If thou could'st but have 
stayed until I got there; it was but a few 


days. Silly lads to run away from friends ! 
And yet thou would'st have loved the bonny 
queen, and poor Raineach was but her bower- 
may : but fain, ah fain to serve thee and her, 
anywhere, any way. But it was so long 
a-coming, lad ! 

" Oh me, I am losing my wits. Only have 
patience, and I will tell thee all as it happened. 
There, loose me awhile, and let me think. 

"Orm, it was. Orm said I must tell nobody, 
but I'll tell thee, sweetheart. Orm said thou 
wast oversea, and bade me come. So I went. 
I took all our bravest things to make a show 
at the wedding. He set me on shipboard, and 
bade the skipper have a care of me, and signed 
farewell off the shore. And then the waves 
beat and the wind blew, and eh, my head 
worked, and the eyes came out of their pits. 
They thrust me down among the bulk, and 
among poor wretches that howled and groaned 
in the bilgewater, and I could see nothing for 
sickness. The ship whirled, and flew, and fell 
into the depths of the sea. Oh, lad, I was 
sorry for thee in those terrible ships; and I 
prayed and prayed to have thee safe on dry 
land. And there were poor Welsh lasses and 
a two or three Saxon ones, worse off than I, 
with hands tied : and I loosed them, I did. 
And then came the skipper and clouted me 
over the head, and tied us all again, and I was 
mad with him, and begged and shouted ; but 
he laughed, like Orm when he kicks his thralls, 
and bade me be at peace, or he would throw 


me to the fishes. Eh, it did hurt to have one's 
hands tied. Did'st thou ever have thy hands 
tied, Thorstein? and kick and scream at 
people? The other poor wretches laughed at 
me, and said things, but I could make nothing 
of their talk. And so I was still, for anger and 
weariness, all that night. 

" Well, when it was day, I was no more sick, 
the water was lound, and the men were rowing 
us to shore. Then they gave us food, and. the 
skipper said I was to look bonny, or I would 
fetch nothing on Dublin strand, and shame it 
were if all his labour and all the money he had 
spent and the care he had taken of me should 
be thrown away. He said we should be very 
thankful to be there at all, for in the storm 
of that night other ships had gone to the 
bottom of the sea. I could not hit him, for 
my hands were tied, so I spat out the food 
they put in my mouth, and I looked as ugly 
as I could ; and he beat me. Oh man, I was 

" Then they shoved us over the side of the 
ship and set us down in a great crowd of 
people, but I was too dazed to take notice. 
At last came a fine lady; that was the queen, 
understand. King's folk have first weel of the 
wares in Dublin town. I was the wares, 
Thorstein : think of that, lad. I couldn't 
think : but I cried to her in my own tongue, 
I am not a thrall, I am not a thrall : I am 
Thorstein Sweinson's sister. 

" ' What girl? ' said she: and I said it again. 

" Then there was a deal of talking with the 
skipper, and my hands were untied, and they 
tingled all over, and I could feel nothing with 
them. But I made shift to creep after the 
queen : and she led me to the king's house, 
and oh she was good to me : and it was a 
bonny spot, if it had not -been for the men-folk 
plaguing. There's none of them like thee, 
lad. I could tell thee things about yon Olaf 
but what's the good ? I am woman grown 
now, and bonny ; and I can sew and bake and 
brew and everything. Thy mother will be 
pleased with me now, and Orm, won't he be 
surprised ? Are they all hearty, Thorstein ? 
And that young lass, does she still play her 
tricks on folk ? how did they call her-^-Asdis?" 
Thorstein's arms fell and his knees smote 

"What's to do, lad?" 
" Three days since I wedded her." 
"Thorstein!" she cried in a terrible voice, 
and thrust him away from her, and fled. He 
fell backward, like one that has got his death- 

T was high day, and he lay CHAPTER 
there slowly coming to him- XXXIX. 
self; and recalling that dreadful ORM 
nightmare, as it seemed, bitter- PAYS. 
sweet. At last he staggered to 
his legs, and drank at a beck 

that ran through the wood. Every one was 
gone from the spot where the camp had been : 
and whither ? He only knew that Orm would 


be with the Northmen faring homeward. He 
loosened his sword and thrust it back again, 
and stumbled forth along the road he had 
come but yesterday. 

At Legburthwaite the Northmen had halted, 
to hold their Thing once more, to talk over the 
business that had passed, and finish the work 
they had on hand. On the mound the chiefs 
were assembled, within the hallowed ring that 
no man might profane. 

Thorstein leaned on the hazel rods, that 
stood as bars from stake to stake to encompass 
the place. Some one was speaking in slow, 
steady tones, and men were listening, in the 
rain, with grave faces, intent upon the speech. 

"Orm Sweinson, come forth. News for 
thee : ha ! ha ! " cried a voice, breaking the 
quiet of the assembly : and there was a haggard 
man with bloodshot eyes, beckoning strangely. 

Forth stepped Orm : " What now young- 
ster ? " said he. 

" Raineach is come again, and that's for 
thee ! " screamed Thorstein, lashing his sword 
through the throat of his brother, where the 
coat of mail left it unshielded. 

" A wolf, a wolf in the temple ! " they 
shouted, and rushed forth. But he was gone 
headlong down the bank and across the lake- 
foot and into the woods on the other side, on 
the rugged slopes of the Benn. 

NDER Blawith roof-tree sat CHAPTER 
dame Asdis, fresh and fair as XL. A 
a daisy : and when she had DOOR- 
broken her fast she looked to DOOM. 
her outdoor servants and set 
them their tasks: and when 
she had put them all in order, she came in, at 
the time folk take their drinkings : and she 
drank a horn of ale, and ate sweet cakes, one 
after another : and then she washed her hands 
at the trough by the porch and got her a clean 
apron and sat down in her high-seat, and took 
to her sewing; and if the day was hot, and 
she dropped off to sleep while one might count 
two score, it was no shame to her, now she 
was wedded woman and ever a house-wife of 
the most notable. And then she wished 
Halldora would come to pay her a visit. For 
it was nought but dull in these backwoods, 
and news was worth whittlegate. So she went 
to the door to see if the weather was holding 
up : and sure enough it had brightened, as it 
does sometimes at mid-day after stormy 
weather, and the lift was lighter than hereto- 
fore. The rain had stopped, and the beck 
was roaring white. 

"Who comes tra'mping over the lea land? 
Hey lads, a stranger. Run for your weapons. 
What, not Thorstein, surely ? and all so 
draggled and dabbled ? Wenches, here's the 
master, and a pretty pickle he is in. A bath is 
the next thing ; but fetch me the ale-tub and 
the biggest horn first." 

DD 225 

For you see she knew the ways of menfolk 
to a tittle, to treat them high and low as they 
should be treated. 

"Well, Thorstein," says she, as he came up 
to the door, "here's a conny mess. Sit in the 
porch, man, and the ale will be here gey soon. 
Thou art not fit to touch before a bath and a 
shift of clothes : and I can't have that filthment 
of a kirtle on thy new high-seat bolster, thou 
know'st. Eh, these men, they are nought but 
great barns. Now, Thorstein, what hast thou 
been doing ? " 

He leaned back and drank off the ale, and 
looked at her strangely. 

" I have killed Orm," said he. 

" None of thy jokes, lad. Say a better word. 
How is this? That the bonny bridegroom 
could wait no longer ; eh, lad? and made more 
haste worse speed homeward ? " 

" But it's truth," said he. 

"What's truth? Gods forbid. And when, 
and where?" 

" At the Thing," said he. 

" Killed Orm at the Thing? " she cried. " Is 
he daft ? It's outlawing ! " 

"Then I am outlawed," said he, drinking 

"Thorstein! how darest thou? and me but 
new wed. Man, this caps aught. Unsay it, 
lad, and never torment me." 

" There is nought to unsay; it was his due: 
and I'd kill him again if he came to life." 

"Came to life? Folk never come to life," 

said she, scornfully. 

" They do, though.' 5 

Asdis was pale as grass, staring like a stone 
woman for a while. Then she was red as 
blood, and looked this way and that, and at 
last muttered something about the ale being 
over strong on an empty belly. Thorstein 
looked at her in wonder. Then she burst 
out: "Who has come, then? Nay, I care not 
for thy hints nor thy threats, thou false thing 
that never was true to me. Away with thee ! 
who will believe a word from a wolfs head ? 
Who dare say I had a hand in it ? What have 
I done, tell me that ? What did Orm say, 
the liar?" 

" Orm said nothing. Maybe Asdis has said 
a word too much," answered Thorstein, rising 
from his seat and going into the house. 

"Thorstein, my dear, Thorstein!" said she, 
" I meant nought : I said nought." 

But he slammed the door of his lockbed in 
her face, and shot the heavy bars, and would 
not come out for all she cried. 

It was late in the afternoon that horses 
clattered into the garth, and there were Asmund 
and Hundi and a dozen of neighbours, who 
three days ago had been the wedding guests, 
and had ridden away from Blawith to the 
Althing. Asdis came out to meet them, with 
the smile she always had ready, and ale was 
standing in the porch. But they would not 
drink, and she was outfaced and browbeaten 
by their stern looks. 


" My poor child, it's ill news we bring," 
said Asmund. " Is Thorstein Sweinson 
within ? " 

"And what's to do with Thorstein Sweinson, 

" I fear me he will be man of thine no more, 
if peace-breaking gets its due. We are here, 
thou knowest, child, it is sore against our 
wills, to summon him for breaking the peace 
of the Thing by slaying his brother Orm ; and 
we would know, in all kindness to himself, 
for what cause he did the deed." 

"What, father ? this caps aught 1 It cannot 

" Nay; as to the deed we were all in a way 
to witness ; for it was done hard by the Thing- 
bounds. But what was said none heard." 

She clasped her hands until her fingers 
cracked, and caught her breath : then she 
broke out, " the villain to kill his brother. Oh 
me that I am wedded to such a man : a wolfs 
head that is to be. Oh father, take me away 
and get me free of him," 

"What, is he here?" 

She pointed to the door of the lockbed : but 
no man stirred, for they might not enter with 
the strong hand until doom had been given. 
So they cried out to him, but got no answer. 

Then stood forth Asmund, for he was chief 
man amongst them, after Orm who had the 
priesthood at Legbarrow since Swein was gone, 
and after Hundi who might happen inherit, 
but now hung back. Said Asmund : 

" Neighbours, a foul thing has been done, no 
less than the breaking of the Thing-peace. Ye 
know our old use and wont : for how could 
we have law or counsel else, unless the Thing 
were hallowed from all violence and the peace- 
breaker put out of the peace of all true men. 
And this is doubly foul, for he that was slain 
was our Godi and chief: and trebly, for it was 
his brother slew him unoffending, so far as we 
know, and unprepared as you all saw. Now 
stand we here over against the door of his 
house, and give doom," 

So they drew a few paces back to give room 
for the accused to stand with his friends at his 
door, if he would appear : and for a loaded 
wain, so the old custom was, to pass between 
the two parties. And they named Asmund 
their lawman, and he named six to give 
judgment, who took oaths that they would 
judge right. Then he stated the case, and 
shouted aloud to Thorstein to come forth, and 
speak up for himself. 

But when no answer was given, Hundi stood 
up and said " Friends, you are too hasty. 
It is never our way to doom a man unheard: 
and if any has the right to speak it is I, who 
stand here between brother and brother. Of 
him that is dead, I would speak no ill : but ye 
knew him. Of him that lives I have no ill to 
speak. Ye know him not as I do ; and here I 
say that against all seeming I hold him sackless 
and sinless." 

With that there was a shouting against 


Hundi, that he was always in a tale with 
Thorstein, and both were runagates and had 
turned Christians abroad, and there was no 
trusting them. Shame it was to Hundi that 
he would not take up the vengeance for his 
brother, and do right by the laws. Some cried 
out that he should be charged with abetting 
the manslaughter. 

"Nay," said Asmund, "peace, friends. Hear 
me. This let us do. Put Hundi in keeping, 
and harm him not; but let the jury give doom." 

So they encompassed Hundi and bore him 
down with their shields, and took his weapons, 
and led him out and bound him ; while the six 
men gave their doom that Thorstein Sweinson 
had broken the Thing-peace, and slain his 
brother their Godi, and for that he was put out 
of law. 

Then Asmund gave out their rinding, and 
said moreover that he put the wonted price of 
a hundred of silver on the wolfs head, dead or 
alive. And then, for the sun was nigh its 
setting, they pressed into the house, no man 
withstanding them, and made for the door 
where he lay, to kill him, as the law was, while 
it was still day. They brought a great beam 
of wood and battered it against the panels, 
swinging it between them ; while others ran 
round to keep the back of the house. 

All this while Thorstein lay quiet, and gave 

no sign, like a fox in its bield while folk twine 

the screws to draw him out : and still they 

battered, for the door was new built, and 


strong. And still Hundi lay in bonds without, 
struggle and shout as he might. 

" And thou, Asdis,'' he cried, " shame on 
thee to leave thy husband to his slayers 
shame and evil on thee ! Ill befall the finger 
that betrayed him, and the tongue that spoke 
never a word while they doomed him ; and 
mischance on the gear that thou art shifting 
from his house. I see thee, woman, and thy 
tricks : thou robbing and thy kin murdering. 
Shame and scathe on the scrow of ye ! " 

For Asdis had bidden her servants carry out 
all her goods, seeing very clearly what was 
forward, because she was a wise woman. By 
this time she had loaded horse and man with 
bales and arks, and away down the road 
homeward, saying nothing to Hundi's curses ; 
which was the easier, for by now the door was 
battered in amid great tumult, and Thorstein 
was standing there, at blows with his pursuers. 
One lay on the ground at his feet among the 
wreckage : and a couple more sat in the hall, 
out of the fray, nursing ugly wounds. 

" Hold, boys," shouted Asmund, " we are 
but spending good stuff." They drew back, 
seemingly as eager to keep Thorstein in, now, 
as they were to get him out before. They 
began to drag tables and benches to block the 
passage and pin him down, and then they got 
fire from the hearth and all the elding they 
could compass, and cast it among the splinters 
of the burst panelling and the lockbed-door. 
And soon the bed was ablaze, with such a 


smoke that they were glad to get out of the 
house : and there they stood in the twilight, 
watching the flames catch the roof, and grimly 
waiting for Thorstein to rush out and get his 
death wound, or to hear his last cry in the 

The wind had shifted to the north-west, now 
that the weather was holding up ; and it drove 
the smoke of the new green wood in a great 
whirl by the door of the house, which was set, 
as always, to catch the morning sun. The 
men were forced to give it a wide berth ; but 
sure they were that he could not escape, and 
so fierce against him that not one of them had 
a thought but burn and kill. They got victuals 
from the out-bowers, remnants of the wedding 
feast, and emptied the ale-tub from the porch, 
and rubbed their hands while the long tongues 
of flame wavered into the air against the stars, 
and the forest behind showed every branch 
and leaf in the glow: the crackling and spitting 
dinned in their ears, and the smoke was red in 
coils against the black sky. 

There they watched until the fire died down : 
and said Asmund, " Lads, we have done a good 
deed, for to ash he will be burnt in yon cinder 
heap. As for the price, as we have all shared 
the work, let us share the pay. Come home 
with me and see if I keep my word. And thou, 
Hundi Snail, never show thy face again, unless 
to thank thy best friends for ridding thee of 
thy worst foe. I take all to witness that 
justice has been done, and nought but justice." 

fOREDONE with his anger, CHAPTER 
Hundi crept home to Lowick XLI. 
|by the dawn of the day, and WOLF'S 
[told the grewsome tale to Hall- HEAD. 
Idora. She, good soul, wept 
[bitterly for Thorstein, and most 
of all for the part she had taken in mating him 
with that false and heartless minx. When she 
had her fill of weeping, she looked up and ran 
forth of the house as she was, like one 

The day was far spent when she came back, 
queer to look at. 

" Is there any quarrel between thee, Hundi 
Sweinson, and thy brother?" 

" Nay," said he. "Would not I have saved 
him, but I was bound?" 

"And if he had fled?" says she, between 
laughing and crying. 

Aye, there he was, at the door, bemired and 
bloody with wounds, and the hair of head 
singed off him, and his eyes nigh bleared away 
with the fire through which he had fled. But 
she had found him in the woods, and comforted 
him, and wormed a true tale out of him, and 
led him home. There he was and there he 
stayed in safe hiding, for Lowick was an out- 
lying spot, with no passing: so they nursed 
him for weeks until he was whole again. 

But if his body was whole, his heart was 
hardened, and never a word would he speak of 
good or ill, after that first talk in the wood 
with kind Halldora. 

EE 233 

Now Halldora's one hope was to see this 
wrong righted ; all the rather because she 
could not help blaming herself for the hasty 
wedding. But it was not easy. For there sat 
Thorstein like a log, and if he showed his face 
it would be death to him and shame to them. 
Hundi was a good boy and no fool, but he was 
not to be sent on ticklish errands, she knew 
that. And now she was tied, for there was a 
lusty urchin, Thorstein Hundason by name, 
in her arms, with a face as round as the harvest 
moon that rose up night after night over 
Colton fell. 

So one fine day came to Greenodd door the 
Lowick folk, with a led horse, bidding Unna 
to visit her first grandchild, which she could 
not refuse. And when Halldora had got her 
as pleased with all as she could be, out came 
the story of Thorstein : not easily, for at first 
Unna was woe and wrath at her son's death, 
and would hear nothing to excuse the slayer. 
But who can say nay to a mother with her 
first babe newborn? and Thorstein was ever 
the best loved and longest lost of the three. 
Unna's eyes were opened, and when she came 
upon her boy, so beaten down and disheartened 
that he scarce knew her, she could do nothing 
but weep over him. And going home she sent 
for her brother Raud and set the case before 
him, and made him a promise of the priesthood, 
which had now fallen into her hands to bestow 
as she liked. And so he was brought into the 


And then Halldora sent for her father, Master 
Grimkel Mani, and won him over likewise. 
And they plotted that when the autumn Thing 
was held at the Greenodd Legbarrow, Raud 
should be made Godi, and be there with a 
great following. Then Mani should come with 
all he could bring, and a round sum of money, 
which Unna would find, to get Thorstein's 
outlawry taken off; and Hundi should confirm 
the true tale, and back up the suit. 

But in the meanwhile, what with all this 
going and coming, and the tattling of thralls, 
it leaked out that Thorstein was not dead after 
all : and that the men who had burnt Blawith 
were but fools for their pains. Asmund sent a 
furious message to Hundi to warn him of the 
danger of harbouring an outlaw : and bade him 
look for visitors some night when he did not 
want them. Hundi was greatly put about, but 
Halldora laughed, and said that she knew 
Asdis would never forgive Thorstein for finding 
her out. Grimkel Mani sent some of his 
biggest men to bide at Lowick, in case they 
might be wanted : and they slept with one eye 

Well, the day came for the Thing : and folk 
were there from far and wide in their feast 
array, and everyone that could be spared of 
Thorstein's kin together with their people. 
Before the meeting, Unna feasted the elders 
and householders at Greenodd, and sat among 
them in her widow's weeds; and after the 
tables were cleared she bade them to witness 


that through her son's death the Godord had 
fallen to her : that, alas, one of her sons was 
outlawed, and the other was ill looked upon by 
neighbours, so that she could name neither of 
them to the office : whereupon she would give 
the place to her brother Raud, who lived hard 
by, and was an able man, and would see that 
the Thing was kept up with due offerings to 
the gods, and entertainment to all comers, and 
so forth. 

Now this was not just what the other party 
would have liked, but they could not gainsay 
it, and away they moved to Legbarrow. Then 
Raud, as the custom was, killed a ram, and 
reddened his hands in the blood of it ; taking 
at the same time the oath of a Godi : and so 
after due hallowing of the spot, sat him down 
on the topmost seat. 

Then stood Asmund on the one side and 
Mani on the other, each claiming to be heard. 
The new Godi ruled that Asmund should have 
the first word : for he thought it wise to let 
them talk it well out. So Asmund set forth 
that his daughter Asdis being wedded to a man 
who had been outlawed, claimed to be released 
from him, and to take all that belonged to her, 
namely the third of land and goods. 

For you must know that in those heathen 
days, among the Northmen, the wife was 
master. She had her own goods and land to 
herself, and could sell them for her own use : 
even against the husband's will she could make 
away with the full half. And yet he had to 

manage it all, and to manage it well; and to 
defend it and her in every way. They were 
grand times for the women-folk. A wife could 
turn off her husband like a hired servant, for 
almost anything that displeased her. And 
there was nothing a man could do in law that 
the woman could not do as well, or better. 
Now Asdis might have just turned off her 
husband, with a word, when she left him : but 
she would not then have had a claim on his 
land. So being a wise woman she held her 
tongue, and now brought this suit against him. 

There were witnesses to the outlawing at the 
door-doom, and there was little defence made ; 
for nobody of Thorstein's friends wished to 
bind him to the woman ; and as for land, there 
was plenty more to be taken, if she made a 
point of holding to a bit of uncleared timber. 

This business being done, the other put in 
his plea. He was a hearty carle, was Grimkel 
Mani, Master Moon we might call him by 
interpretation. With his great grey beard, and 
his tall figure somewhat barrowbacked, he was 
well listened to at meetings, and much respected 
by high and low, but no great hand at cunning 
and trickery. When he began to speak of 
Thorstein there was a disturbance. At last 
Raud got peace, and the suit went forward. 
Mani told how Thorstein had not been heard 
in his defence, how could he, standing alone 
and all his foes about him ? And then he went 
on to tell the other side of the story; how 
Raineach had saved Thorstein as a lad, and 


had been received by his people as a sister : 
how Orm had been a rough kinsman to all his 
house, and a hard master to his folk : and how 
he had tricked Raineach into thralldom, and 
made up a lying tale about it. 

So far so good : though it was no new story 
for a stranger, man or wench, to be sold off as 
useless or troublesome rubbish. But then Mani 
went on to complain that the doom of outlawry 
had been unlawfully given ; for the crime was 
done at the Althing, said he, and to the Althing 
the case should be taken. He said moreover 
that so great a penalty as full outlawry should 
not have been laid at a door-doom, which was 
meant for little cases, such as the distraint of 
goods from a refractory debtor, and such like. 
Then he said that the attack had been con- 
tinued after sunset, and therefore if they had 
killed Thorstein it would have been murder. 
" And all this," said he, " comes of the folly of 
men I see sitting over yonder, who have let 
themselves be led on from bad to worse by a 
wicked woman." 

Then there was a terrible to-do. Men ran 
for their weapons ; and the only way of saving 
the Thing-stead from blood was for Raud to 
break up the meeting, and draw off his friends ; 
begging them to be guided and to save their 
strength for another chance. 

Thorstein at Blawith heard the news as one 

who heeds little. He thanked them for their 

kindness, and said he must be going, for he 

would not bring them into straits. And so 


Hundi set him on his way across the Leven to 
Raud's-ey, and Raud kept him for a night, and 
asked him whither bound. Thorstein said he 
had a mind to go far. It was in his heart to 
go in search of Raineach, even if he had to lait 
her at York and in the house of King Olaf : 
but after her anger and the falsehood of one he 
had trusted, he feared and doubted, though he 
said nothing. 

" Kinsman," said Raud, " take my counsel. 
Things have gone against thee, but the tide 
will turn. Thou hast friends, and good ones, 
at Mansriggs and at Greenodd, at Lowick and 
here ; and when the truth gets ground and 
springs up, it will bear fruit, never fear. We 
were in error to open the case anywhere but at 
the Althing ; but we shall try again and get 
thee cleared at last, in spite of that woman and 
her witch-face. It is only a fool that throws 
his oars overboard because his tiller snaps. 
Now go not far. Over yonder in Cartmel is 
out of our bounds. None of our Northmen 
will touch thee there : but when good news is 
to be sent, thou wilt not be hard to seek." 

lARTMEL was a queer spot, CHAPTER 
thenadays. It was a little XLII. 
village of wattled huts, heavily CARTMEL 
thatched above, and daubed CHURCH, 
with clay, round the miry 
[green where children played in 
the sunset. On one side of the green a beck 
ran up, and on the other side a beck ran down ; 
and between the becks was a big house, not 


unlike the rest except that it was big and they 
were little. That was where the Reeve of the 
York priests dwelt. In the midmost of the 
green was another house, daub and wattle and 
thatch, standing all alone, with a cross on the 
gable-end of it, and a wooden tower of open 
work wherein a bell hung. 

A man in a long gown was pulling at a rope 
and ringing the bell. It tinkled in the quiet 
air, above the shouts of the children on the 
green, with a pleasant music that seemed to 
well over the fields of the broad valley, and 
their quickset hedges and flagged walls, to the 
brown woods of the hills that lay around, and 
up into the golden evening sky. 

It was but a twelvemonth ago that Thorstein 
had been christened and taught the faith : but 
since then, what things had happened ? Dare 
he now enter the church, he who had kept no 
day holy nor heard mass, nor even latterly said 
the prayers he used to say night and morning? 
It had come to this that his stony heart was 
shut to man and God alike. When Hundi 
and Halldora knelt, for she had learned her 
husband's faith, when they knelt to their 
cross, he would walk out of the way dowly 
enough. If his brother's blood was on his 
hands, that was little in an age when few men's 
hands were white : but there came over him a 
vague and terrible fear that he could not name 
to himself, the conscience of backsliding, the 
haunting of Hakon ; and the words of the 
applegarth at Ladir rose up in his mind, 

" Whoso denieth me." He could not say 
what he had then said to Hakon, nor take the 
answer. " You have preached to me," said 
the poor young king : and here he was, a 

The bell stayed ringing, and there was a 
voice within, the sound that he knew well, of 
evensong. He sat down by the church door, 
rudely pillared in wood with some rough 
notching on it to imitate the carving of the 
great churches he had seen : and sitting with- 
out, listened while Amen followed Amen like 
the noise of a beck in a gill. The children left 
playing, and stood round him out of arm's 
reach, to stare. 

By and by the droning within stopped. A 
hand was laid on his shoulder. 

" Who art thou, son ? " said an English 
voice. But there was no answer. 

" Who art thou, son ? " it said again in 

" A wanderer." 

" Returned?" said the priest. 

Thorstein knelt before him and burst into 
sobs. The children had crept up behind the 
priest, and two or three were holding by his 

"Children, run home: it is supper-time for 
all of you," said the priest, making the sign 
of blessing over their rough white heads. 
"And thou, son, give me thy heart. It shall 
be in safe keeping." 

He led Thorstein into his dwelling and set 
FF 241 

food before him, and bade him rest. In due 
time the lad's heart was opened, and he told 
his tale, or somewhat of it ; so much as let it 
be known that he was born a heathen and 
baptised a Christian, but had fallen back ; and 
that all was wrong with him now. 

"Aye," said the priest, "for thy sin's sake. 
I spare thee not, for it is written, Whom the 
Lord loveth he chasteneth. But I smite thee 
not, for it is written again, Him that cometh 
to me I will in no wise cast out." 

" Father," said Thorstein, " I have learned 
enough to know that a man may be made 
clean with penance from many a crime. Is 
there a penance strong enough for such as 

"Son," said he, "for every sin the church 
has penance, and for ever sinner she has room. 
To confess thy sin is the first thing; to weep 
for it is the next ; and what more is there but 
to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance ? 
For thy backsliding I bid thee dwell hence- 
forward with Christians, and forsake the 
heathen and their ways. Fast and pray as 
it is commanded. And for the man-slaying 
thou hast done, if thou have told the truth 
about it, God alone will be thy Judge. It is 
not for me to bind or loose." 

Thorstein slept that night, and awoke with 
a new heart. After matins were done the 
priest brought him to the Reeve, praying that 
something might be given to put him in a way 
of living among Christian folk, for he was a 

penitent and a brand plucked from the burning. 

The Reeve, a burly Englishman from York, 
and to all purpose lord of Cartmel, looked the 
stranger up and down. 

"Well, my penitent," said he, "this is church 
land, and churchman's word is law here," said 
he. " But by thy looks I should name thee 
a church-robber, and no lamb of our flock. 
However," said he, " since father John there 
stands for thee, knowing the risks, I'll see to 
it. What can'st thou do, man ? " 

Thorstein said, very humbly for him, that 
he would put his hand to anything to addle 
whittlegate : that he knew something about 
beasts, and smithying, and suchlike. 

"In a word," said the Reeve, "man of all 
trades and master of none, or thou would'st 
not be here. But come thy ways, and I'll 
prove thee." 

Sure enough he set him one job and another: 
and if Thorstein was willing at the muck-heap, 
he was clever at the stithy: until the Reeve 
laughed again, and clapped him on the back 
saying, " Good lad. I never knew yon thieving, 
murdering rascals could turn out such a 

So he guested him in his house that winter, 
and took on with him as never was. And to 
cap all, when the spring was come, " Young 
man," said he, "folk can't be always on hand," 
said he. 

"That they can't," said Thorstein wondering. 

" And when they are gone they would like to 


lie easy, by the church yonder, and see things 
done right by the land?" 

" That they would," said Thorstein. 

"Well," said he, "I am but the servant of 
the blessed Minster of York, and of the abbot 
yonder : but I think they owe me somewhat ; 
and what with father John's good word and all 
we might manage it. Now, look here. There's 
none of these fellows fit to hold a candle to me 
and you, and none knows the land as they 
that live on it. Reason is when I drop off the 
best man should follow me ; and the abbot, he 
would say aye to that, if we got the soft side of 
him. Now, Master Thurstan, I've a daughter. 
She is a fine girl, though I say it who shouldn't; 
and a right good one, and the apple of my 
eye. But what, lad, thou hast set eyes on her. 
What then?" 

Thorstein thanked him kindly, and said it 
was more than he deserved. 

" Not a bit, lad. There, think it over, and 
I'll answer for the wench." 

Thorstein went to father John, for he was 
very thick with him, and never missed his 
church, fast-day or feast-day. 

" Father," said he, " I would go on pilgrimage 
to York. Maybe a sight of the blessed Minster 
would do me good." 

" Well said, my son : go in peace." 

lORK city was a wonderful place CHAPTER 
as one came upon it by the old XLIII. AT 
North Road. From afar its YORK. 
towers rose up above the green 
tillage of the plain, beyond the 
(winding Ouse : and as the tra- 
veller drew nearer, he saw the great high 
mound that encompassed the garth of houses, 
set with its bristling stockade above, and parted 
from the fields by a water-ditch as broad as a 
broad river. In the midst of this great wall 
was the North gate, through which the road 
ran ; and within were houses and houses, some 
high, some low, some mean like the cottages 
at Cartmel, some stone-built and grand with 
painting and carving : but all cheek by jowl, 
as one may say, along the narrow winding 
streets, thronged with people and wares set 
out to sell, and foul with the refuse and rubbish 
of a thickly inhabited town. 

Above the house-roofs rose a great building, 
the famous Minster: with its towers standing 
high over gable and pinnacle, graceful and 
slender. Up there the bells clanged above the 
din and hurry of the town in those dark deep 
streets, like deep roaring gills and whirling 
torrents below. 

But it was not for the Minster that Thorstein 
was bound, as he elbowed through the crowd, 
and picked his steps over the unpaved lane 
that was more gutter than path. He hardly 
dared question the wayfarers, such a stoore 
and a stir there seemed to be. But he knew 


that somewhere in the heart of the houses he 
should find Olaf s palace, the new castle that 
had been built after Athelstan destroyed the 
old Danish stronghold, the great hall where 
King Eric had sat with his witch-wife, ' and 
skald Egil the swart had sung the lay that won 
him his head. 

So he went forward along the streets, with 
a beating heart and pale lips, towards the mid- 
most of the city where the great towers rose. 
When he came before the castle there was an 
open space, and the houses fell back like trees 
from a green glade in the forest. But instead 
of coneys skipping in the grass, here was a 
great crowd gathered and a tumult going on. 
Out of every window round the place was 
a head thrust, and folk fringed the house- 
roofs a-straddle on the thatch-rigging, and all 
shouting at once. Stones were flying; and the 
shopkeepers at the corner, where Thorstein 
came into the square, were scrambling their 
goods under cover and shutting their shutters. 
It seemed as if the townsfolk of the baser sort 
were trying to force the castle doors : and 
whoever came out of the narrow streets, like 
rats out of their holes, thrust themselves on 
their fellows in front and shoved and shouted; 
and ill luck it would have been to have tripped 
in the midst of that scrimmage. Over heads 
and fists many a stick was waving ; and here 
and there an axe, and here and there a sword, 
flashing in the sun-gleam, that now and then 
broke on the square through the rain-showers. 

On they came by hundreds; aye, by thousands, 
swarming : for the old books say that in those 
days no less than thirty thousand souls were 
crammed within the narrow walls that girt the 
city of York ; so you may well believe there 
was no lack of hands in a townsfolk mote, 
whether for peace or for righting. 

" What's to do, friend ? " says Thorstein 
to a neighbour, who by the look of him was 
no Saxon, but a Dane ; and a right hearty, 
well-to-do looking merchant man he seemed, 
now that he had got his goods shifted, and 
shutters up, and stood there with one hand 
holding his door ajar, and with the other 
gripping his axe. 

"What's to do?" repeated the Dane; "why, 
it's the old story. A stranger, eh? none of 
the Saxon folk anyhow." For Danes and 
Northmen talked the same tongue, and fore- 
gathered among strangers. 

"Nay," said Thorstein, "no Saxon, though 
a traveller from over the fells." 

" No offence," said the Dane : " but one 
can't be too careful, with Southron spies all 
about. Our kinsmen, thou knowest, friend, 
have no bed of roses in this bonny burg." 

"I know nought," said Thorstein. "What 
is forward?'' 

"What thou seest, and I hope they may 
break the castle. For if the great doors 
yonder hold, they will sack the shops for want 
of a job. Thou hast heard, maybe, rumour 
that king Olaf is dead. To-day it is assured. 


It was somewhere in the North, Tyningaham 
I think they called the spot. Look out, man ! " 

There was a rush towards the door, and 
stones flew. The Dane plucked Thorstein into 
the house, slammed the door, and made it fast 
with stout bars. Then he cast an eye on the 
bolts of his window, and laughed as they stood 
in the shop, lit only through the cracks in the 

" It is a pretty stiff bit of oak," he said. 
" We shall hold out awhile, unless they take to 
fire-raising, and that would risk their own 
kennels. Well, as I was saying, Olaf being 
gone we must have a new king. Some of 
these Saxon rubbish would be glad to see the 
Southrons in here : and anyhow they mean to 
make hay while the sun shines." 

" So they are trying to plunder the king's 
house ? " said Thorstein. 

" That's it : but never heed them. I have 
seen three or four such ados in the last few 
months, and one gets hardened. Though 
indeed if it were not for business, I should be 
glad to be safe again over the seas. It's a 
fine town, is Dublin. Thou wilt not be from 
thereaway I reckon ? " 

"Nay," said Thorstein: "but I was there 
a while when Olaf Guthferthson was king, and 
indeed I was guested in the king's house, and 
it is now for nought else but to have speech 
with the queen that I am in York." 

" Then, my lad, thou art a bit late : and a 
good job for thee too, if those rascals how 

they shout! get into the castle.'* 

" She is gone then ? What, is she dead, 
poor thing?" 

" Nay, not so bad as all that. You see it 
was something o' this way. Olaf owed a deal 
to Earl Orm, for without him he would never 
have halved England with Eadmund. And 
Orm is a good business man, and looks ahead. 
Says he to Olaf, If anything happens now to 
Eadmund, thou wilt be king of all England : 
and what shall I get that helped thee thereto ? 
Says Olaf, What wilt have, friend? Says Orm, 
There's my Aldith should be wed : queen of 
York is not bad, and queen of England is 
better. Says Olaf, Well, says he, king Harald 
Fairhair had more wives than one. Nay, nay, 
says the Earl, that's out of fashion nowadays, 
and I doubt if the Minster-folk would stand it : 
the king of York is a good Christian now, my 
lord, and behaves as such: eh? So Olaf he 
goes to the Irish queen and My dear, says he, 
a sad unhealthy spot is York city ; better go 
back to Ireland. Says my dame to me, but 
come in, man, and make thyself at home. 
Any news from Dublin will be welcome to the 

So he brought Thorstein into the living-room 
behind the shop. It was crowded up with 
their goods, and looked like a poor place after 
the great halls of the Northmen : but every- 
thing was rich and rare. Such hangings to 
the beds, such carved work in the tables and 
stools, such shining copper pots and pans! 
GG 249 

And the merchant's wife was dressed as grand 
as a queen, Thorstein thought, with brooches 
and rings for a dozen. The children even were 
finely clothed, though they would have looked 
but blue and wan alongside of the applecheeked 
rogues from the Northmen's homesteads. 

" Dame, it's all right ; the doors are well 
barred, and if they break them there is the 
earth-house to hide in. But see, here's a 
young man has been in Dublin." 

"Welcome, friend," said she, "and what 
news of the old country?" Thorstein could 
see with half an eye that the Dane's wife was 
Irish, and so he replied in the language he had 
learnt among the fell-folk, saying that it was a 
good while since he was in Ireland, but he was 
now come to speak to the queen, who had 
been friendly with him once. At which Master 
Dane screwed up half his face and winked, and 
his wife shook her head at him, and said the 
queen was a good body, and sorry she was for 
her, and pity it was they had not gone back 
together with her to Ireland. 

"Nay, nay," said the Dane: "business is 
business. Keep your shop, say I, and your 
shop will keep you." 

" Well then," said the wife, " keep thy shop, 
my lad, and this young man will take a bite, 
and be the readier to lend a hand if needed." 

So she set food before him, and he ate. And 

while he ate he turned over in his mind the 

chances about Raineach. Soon he burst out, 

" Mistress, is it true, as the master says, that 


all the queen's folk are clean away and out of 
the castle?" 

" Aye," she said, " and a burning shame it 
was : but better for them maybe. They got a 
good ship to sail in, and good pickings. They 
were stinted of nothing." 

"They would be a deal about the town before 
leaving York, and well known to all?" 

" Oh aye, it was always in and out ; they 
coming to our shop and we at the castle. Not 
so bad to do with, they weren't, for king's 

" And did you happen to know a great lass, 
a bonny one with red hair, a bower-may that 
the queen made much of, Raineach by name?" 

" And what of her ? " asked the dame. 

" Oh, she was just one of them in Dublin." 

" Was she that ? Ah, she was a sad one if 
ever there was. Hey, man, hark here! The 
young man would have news of that great, 
strapping, red-haired wench, her that the 
castle-folk were always fighting about." 

"The minx!" shouted the merchant from 
the shop. " Never heed her, lad, wherever 
she is." 

" All the men were after her," went on the 
dame, "and never a one would she take. And 
that proud with folk, she might have been a 
king's daughter. I'll be bound she was no 
good, though the queen was always abetting 
her. Olaf would have let them stone her for 
a witch, one time, but the queen got her off. 
She'll be gone with the rest." 


It was little help he would find there, Thor- 
stein said to himself: but angered as he was, 
spoke fair: and said he would take a turn at 
the look-out while the master came to his 
supper. But the tumult had died down, and 
the rabble was dwindling as speedily as it had 
gathered. The stir was over like a summer 
storm, and evening had come. Thorstein 
asked where he could find a lodging for that 
night, and said he was not penniless. The 
Dane merchant said he would be glad to board 
him, but one might see there was little room 
for guests in house or shop. Nevertheless 
there was close at hand a house of priests 
called St. Peter's, where travellers were lodged, 
and he would set the stranger on the way 
when all was quiet. 

So Thorstein came to St. Peter's (the place 
that was afterwards called St. Leonard's Hos- 
pital) which Athelstan had founded not long 
before, giving to the Minster priests a thrave, 
that is twenty sheaves, from every plough-land 
in the bishopric, that they might entertain 
strangers and do good to the poor and sick. 
There he was received, and no questions asked : 
and they gave him supper in the great hall, 
and a place to lie down for the night among 
other wanderers and wayfarers. Some of them 
were decent folk, some ugly-looking enough to 
make Thorstein feel for the few silver pennies 
he carried, and tuck his poke well into his 
sleeve, and loosen his weapon in its sheath, 
before shutting his eyes. But he slept safely, 

still seeking even in his dreams for Raineach, 
who was now farther away than ever. 

When day was come, and the doors were 
opened, the priests' officer gave each wayfarer 
a cake of bread and bade him God speed. 
Thorstein stood there in the doorway with his 
dole in his hand, and sore doubt in his heart 
which way he should turn. East or West was 
all one to him. The Minster bells broke out 
into a chime, and pealed through the air. 
Sweet and sunny it was after last night's riot 
and unrest. He bethought him that this was 
the Lord's day ; he could not leave York 
without at least hearing a service, now that 
he was a Christian man once more. 

People were going all one way in the streets, 
but quietly now, and very unlike the crowds of 
yestereven. He followed them and went with 
the stream into the shadow of the Minster 
tower and up the great steps, gaining one at a 
time in the throng at the porch. Presently he 
was carried through the dark door, and inside 
as into some sudden astonishing turn of a 
dream. For it was wonderful broad and lofty in 
there ; the walls betwixt the arches and above 
the ranks of columns were inlaid with polished 
marbles, painted with long processions of deep- 
robed saints and emblems of glory, lit with 
glimmering, flower-like windows of glass, and 
ceiled with canopies of carven work, with 
beams and bosses wrought curiously. It was 
the building of archbishop Aelberht not long 
since finished ; the new church risen on the 


ruins of the old church that Halfdan's Danes 
had burnt; witness to the life and might of 
the faith, a noble monument of craftsmanship. 
Its gilding was yet untarnished and its rich 
colours were as if fresh from the hands of the 
artist ; a marvel to behold, even for a traveller 
who had been in many lands and had seen the 
dwellings of great kings, and temples both of 
the old faith and the new. 

Thorstein knelt on the paved floor, and 
beside him and around him knelt the people, 
men and women, rich and poor: maybe among 
them many who last night had been foremost 
in the tumult, side by side with those they had 
attacked to rob and slaughter. Far off, in the 
twilight of the choir, re-echoed from roof and 
aisles, came the sound of the singing and the 
solemn voices of the priests: the very psalms 
and prayers that were heard in little Cartmel 
church among the mountains, and in every 
church of Christian folk from thence throughout 
the round world. Everywhere the same, and 
in every age. For to think of the abidingness 
of it all ! Kings came and went, nations rose 
and fell, but the church drooped its head only 
to raise it more gloriously. Year by year, 
while battle and plague were raging without, 
within the Minster welled, as from a healing 
spring, the same unending litany for peace 
from poor folk to the poor folk's God. 

No prayer said Thorstein as he knelt thus, 
while the voices from the choir rolled forth like 
gathering thunder, or murmured through the 


aisles uncomprehended like the wind in winter 
trees. It was enough for him that he was in a 
holy place, in the palace of God, in the very 
presence of the King of Heaven. Surely the 
Lord Christ there, somewhere in the dim 
bewilderment of gold and gloom, amid those 
cloudy odours and mysterious answerings of 
music, surely He was looking forth. And what 
was the word ? The Lord looketh at the heart. 
Peace, then. 

JERY home-sickness, and noth- CHAPTER 
[ing else, drew Thorstein back XLIV. 
[to Hougun. He stayed awhile WOOD- 
[in York, hoping for news; but EIDERS. 
[the only news was of Olaf s 
[death, sudden and strange, 
the hand of God manifest, folk said, and St. 
Balthere's vengeance on the church-burner. 
So all was fear and flight in the old city and 
throughout Deira. 

Then Thorstein took leave of his friend the 
Dane merchant, and shirking talk with the 
Minster-priests, won his way back over the 
Keel, and wandered homewards. 

Out of the Northmen's land he was free from 
their laws. But in those days a stranger was 
a stranger, in whatever land he abode. If he 
had no strong friends he was nought. So that 
between wandering abroad and wood-biding at 
home there was little to choose. 

Now the way of the wood-biders was this. 
When a man was utterly outlawed no friend 
might receive him, under pains and penalties; 


every enemy had the right to hunt him like 
a wild beast, and to get the reward for 
killing him, if reward were offered. So there 
was nothing for it but to stay in the forests, 
hiding in some cave or secret hut of tree-boughs 
and turf, and living on what he could hunt, or 
maybe rob from the neighbours who had put 
him out of law. In this manner, not so long 
afterwards, William of Cloudeslea and Robin 
Hood fled to the greenwood, where the king's 
sheriffs could not take them. And even to 
these days, men who have been in trouble with 
the law have been known to hide themselves 
in the wide woods that cover the Furness fells, 
skulking by day and prowling by night ; some- 
times friendly enough with the poorer sort, 
and troublesome only to the gentle-folk and 
greater farmers of the neighbourhood, whose 
stock they pilfered : and their hiding-places are 
well known to those that know the country 
well. In the end these wood-biders either got 
their peace with the law, or were hunted down, 
or died like wild beasts in the wood. 

Thorstein was not without hope that his 
business might be done by his friends, whom 
he never doubted. But when he came one 
morning to Lowick, risking his neck for the 
sake of news, he heard that things were no 

" But," said Halldora, " hark to this. Two 

days ago, as I was sitting in the sun it was 

bright autumn weather and the child was 

kicking about on the grass, I heard him 


crowing and chuckling; and I looked up from 
my sewing, and there he was, staring at some- 
what, and laughing. Then I was ware of one 
among the trees hard by, for it was on the 
edge of the wood, looking eagerly at us 
though the branches. I could see nothing but 
the gleam of an eye, and a white hand. I 
made no stay, but caught up the barn and 
ran for it. And yet by the white hand, I 
reckon yon was a woman ; and none of the folk 
hereabouts, be they fell-folk or farm-folk, by 
the same token. But by the gleam of eyelight, 
I reckon she was gradely tall for a woman. 
What dost make of that, lad? " 

He went straight to Greenodd, caring nought 
who might meet him. Into the hall he strode, 
and " Mother," said he, "where is Raineach?" 

She was not so very far to seek after that ; 
nor so very hard to suit when he found her. 
The true tale had come out on both sides. 
Unna had told her of Orm, and of Asdis, and 
of Thorstein's beguiling; and Raineach had 
given her own story, how she was carried to 
York, after finding that Thorstein had left 
thinking of her; and then of her adventures at 
Olafs castle there; and then how they were 
sent away, and sailed round by Pictland and 
Orkney and the South-isles ; and then how the 
wind had brought them to the Cumberland 
coast, and how she wept at the sight of her 
fells again ; and how the queen was sorry for 
her, and said at last, "There, wench; hie away 
with thee, and have better luck than to be a 
HH 257 

king's castaway." " And maybe," said Rain- 
each, reddening, "she was a bit weary of me, 
for there was always some stir forward, and she 
had no man now to keep her folk under. Any 
way, by dint of this and that, I made shift to 
get clear of them all ; and short was the way 
hither, for fells are easier to pass than foes." 

O but Raineach was grown great and strong, 
and more than womanly, for she was such a one 
as a giant's daughter should be; but as fine 
spoken and as fair-skinned as a princess, with 
her three winters of court and castle-biding. 
She had got used to outlandish doings and 
unkid havings, one could see that by the very 
way she supped her porridge. But when 
Thorstein told her to think twice before she 
took him, and he did so, how she laughed ! 
The rose-red came and went, up and down the 
bonny slim cheeks. She reached out both her 
hands, and held his. It was good to feel that 
firm grasp. 

" How many times dost thou reckon I have 
thought of it, lad, before now ? " 

They walked together over the fells by wood- 
land paths where none could spy them, to a 
little village near the shore of Duddon firth. 
There they found the priest whom Raineach 
had known of old, he who had given that 
counsel to her when she sold her cross to the 
wood-wrights. He was a strange figure, with 
high shaven brow and hair long behind ; the 
beard thick above his mouth, and cropped 
below. And his little church was more like a 

hut of the fell-folk than the clay daubing at 
Cartmel ; for he was one of the old sort, and 
of the rule of those Irish priests who came over 
sea and settled up and down the Cumberland 
coasts, building them stone cells, and there 
serving those Irish saints, like Patrick and 
Sanctan and Bega, whose names are still 
known hereabouts, and were known long before 
the York Minster-priests came to that land. 

There was no grand wedding, with neighbours 
to feast and gifts to scatter. They knelt alone 
in the bare little cell before the priest, and in 
his own speech he blessed them in the name of 
the Father and Son and Holy Ghost, and bade 
them be one heart and soul, world without 
end. It was no wedding at all, the heathen 
Northmen would have said, this of the outlaw 
to the stranger, unwitnessed and unwarranted. 
But then, to the Christians the bridals of the 
Northmen were nothing, no more than a 
manner of partnership in trade, that could be 
on and off like any other bargain in worldly 

It was Thorstein's hope to rebuild his own 
house at Blawith, if he had to do it with his 
own hands, none aiding him. And if he could 
but settle there again and hold his own, far 
away as it was from the neighbours and buried 
in the woods, he thought the turn of the tide 
would come, and after a while he would be 
once more a free man among his own people. 
So he knocked up a shed among the ruins, and 
gathered together such trifles as he could save 



out of the wreck. But they had not been a 
week at work on the new home, when before 
daylight one morning the dogs awakened them, 
and they fled into the wood, only just in time. 
Their little cot was ablaze, and a band of 
armed men was slashing about, and hunting 
for them up and down. 

But they would not leave hope, so fully 
persuaded as they were that better days were 
coming. It was the back-end of the summer 
by now, and winter was upon them. It would 
not do to risk another door-doom ; and as they 
cowered in hiding wood-biders well skilled in 
the craft they talked out a plan to put more 
than dry land between themselves and their 
enemies, until the time should come when they 
might get peace. 

In the midst of Thurston-water there is a 
little island, lying all alone. When you see it 
from the fells, it looks like a ship in the midst 
of the blue ripples ; but a ship at anchor, while 
all the mere moves upbank or downbank, as 
the wind may be. The little island is ship-like 
also because its shape is long, and its sides are 
steep, with no flat and shelving shores ; but a 
high short nab there is to the northward, for a 
prow, so to speak; and a high sharp ness to 
the southward, for a poop. And to make the 
likeness better still, a long narrow calf-rock lies 
in the water, as if it were the cockboat at 
the stern ; while tall trees stand for masts and 

The island is not so far in the water but that 


one can swim to shore, nor so near that it 
would be easy to attack it without a boat: 
and at that time boats there were none on 
these lakes, except maybe a coracle or two of 
the fell-folk. For fishing, no spot could be 
better, nor for hunting, if one wanted a safe 
home and hunting-tower. And if need were 
to run down Crake to Lowick for news or 
victuals, that could be done with little risk. 
This should be their hold and their home, 
they planned. Here they would make them- 
selves secure, and let the storm drift over 
their heads. 

So said so done. By nightfall they were on 
the island, with little goods indeed, but with 
a fire alight, and a rough lair of branches 
wreathed to shelter them. Into it they crept, 
and cuddled together as when they were 
children, laughing at their makeshifts and eager 
over their designs. Through the shivering, 
falling leaves the moon shone, patterning the 
grass of the glade in their dell, and dying out 
as the clouds raked by; flashing again, and 
fading. The woof of the waves against the 
rock-wall of their castle, and the voice of the 
wind flying past, booming in the great forest 
that rose steep over against them on the 
eastern shore, and then shrieking in the 
branches overhead, all these touched them 
not in their shelter, and only made their peace 
more peaceful, and their security more secure. 
It was the old time come again for both of 
them, and they were as lightsome as children 

in their new happiness. 

" Hark to the wind," said Raineach, " afar 
and away there : it will be down at the water- 
foot now, ruffling the great oak trees as if they 
were barns' curly heads. It is coming upbank. 
Ah, it is catching the nab end : hark to the 
dash of the waves on the shore and on the 
rock in the water. Here it comes. That was 
a big one, Thorstein : it made the ground 
shake, like a ship-deck. I had liefer be here 
than on shipboard, though. Shall we hold, 
thinkst thou?" 

" Oh aye; the trees sway a bit and the roots 
jar in the mould : but we are snug enough 
here. It's not the wind will harm us." 

" Nay, the wind is bonny. It sings. They 
used to sing a deal in Dublin, the bards, and 
there were your skalds, they called them, in 
York : whiles they sang me songs all to myself. 
They were fools. It was like this: The red 
fern is tall and fair. She sways in the autumn 
breeze. Swords flash: blood flows. The red 
fern heeds them not. Nay, nor I didn't. Not 
I. They sang nought. But yon wind, what 
does it sing? Home again, child: home again, 
old playfellow : home ! Make a hole, lad, 
through the bield to spy at. There's no 
window in our island palace : and I want to 
see the fells, and count them. Nay then; it's 
no use: we are all umbered up with trees. 
Aigh ! it is wolf dark : pull the boughs again, 
Thorstein ; the wind blows at me through the 



" The pet of Dublin and the pride of York 
has got over nice and nesh with her queens 
and earls and such like, I doubt, for a bield 
in the wild wood. Nay, don't nip like that, 
Raineach : it hurts, thou great rough minx!" 

" I'll be named no names then. Did I hurt 
thee? Truly? Beat me. But thou, Thorstein, 
never cast up against me what was none of my 
doing. I did no wrong to thee, of all people. 
None. The wind knows. Hark, it begins 
again. What is it saying ? The red fern 
grows round the tall great stone, out on the 
fell: on the fell. And it grows and it grows, 
and it hides it, and it smothers it, and it 
chokes it, all in its red red hair! " 

"Oh let be, lass; I am that weary. What 
is the night for but to sleep? It will be up 
and doing, over soon." 

" There, then, shut eyes. Bad lad, they are 
not shut. I can see them, I can see them in 
the dark, shining. Dost thou mind the wild 
cat, Thorstein, and how angry we were? Now 
we are never to be angry again, are we ? Shut 
eyes and snore, I say, or I'll beat thee." 

ERE as the days went on they 
made their home. It was no 
great job to build a cot in the 
gap between the two ridges, 
the twin backbone of the is- 

land: for the rock on either 

hand is steep like a solid house-wall for more 
than a man's height, and runs thus maybe two 
hundred feet, now choked with ruins of the old 

building that once stood there: but formerly a 
deep and sheltered trough. 

They had only to roof it over with poles, 
which they cut from the trees growing on the 
spot, and to thatch it with boughs and turfs 
like one of those huts the woodcutters and 
bark peelers make themselves even nowadays 
in the woods. Then they built up the ends, 
leaving doors and windows, and there was as 
snug a home as might be in all Lakeland. 
Nor so long a task was it, either, for a lad 
like Thorstein, who many a day before had 
enterprised to build a house for the folk of 
Heathwaite fell. 

And then he bethought him of a bit of a 
boat, to make the shoreward journey easy. 
For himself, he could swim like a duck : but to 
ferry another, and to fetch such things as kind 
friends might give, not to say for fishing and 
fowling, and for watching the shores of his 
mere, something more was needful than swim- 
ming-strokes and a wet sark. 

The fell-folk had their own old way of boat 
building, which was this. They cut a tree, and 
trimmed its ends with the axe ; and then, 
heating cobbles in the fire, they burned out 
the heart of the log and hollowed their canoe. 
But a Northman born, who was no mean 
woodsmith, thought scorn of that ancient 
makeshift. And yet to save time, he was 
content with bent boughs, and withys to bind 
them into a framework, and skins stretched 
around all : making a coracle light to lift and 
II 265 

easy to drive, even when the water was none 
so lound. For our lake-waves never run high 
like sea-billows, though the strength of the 
breeze and its sudden gusts sometimes give a 
row r er hard work to keep head to wind. And 
the many sharp rocks and cobbly shoals 
upstanding beneath the water-line are some- 
what dangerous for a heavy boat under way: 
but with a light craft it is light work. And 
no sweeter life could be dreamt by one to the 
manner bred than this fishing and fowling on 
a teeming mere, aboard of a handy little thing 
that answers every touch and wish of the 

So thus they lived as if life were one holiday : 
safe from prowling beasts and far from man- 
kind. Now and again Thorstein would travel 
down Crake to his friends, who helped him 
willingly with goods and tools and porridge-meal 
for housekeeping. And yet it was little they 
lacked, to be as well off as they used to be in 
early days among the fell-folk. There was 
the same hunting ground; firewood and the 
sweetest of water in plenty; and well they 
knew, if any did, how to make the most of 
the wilderness and all it held, and when that 
was done to be content. 

For a long while nobody meddled with them. 
It seemed as though they had been forgotten. 
And just to be let alone, and to be together, 
was enough to make the morning bright and 
the evening merry. Winter was not so sharp, 
down there by the water, as it was on the fells. 

The lake freezes over but seldom, and even 
the hard weather was friendly to them, for it 
sent beasts and birds down from the high lands 
to milder grounds, and so to their larder ; and 
the warm feathers and furs were welcome for 
clothes and bedding. 

When the spring came, and lilies made the 
shores all golden, and the snow on the great 
fells dwindled into delicate lacework, white in 
the blue air, then Raineach was glad of the 
sunshine to sit in, at the land-locked harbour, 
plying her needle, while Thorstein was away 
in the boat fishing. He was never so far but 
she could climb upon a rock and spy him out, 
a speck upon the broad water-line. Then she 
would wave to him, and if he was not busy 
with a fish he would wave back. So it was 
not lonely. After the worry and weariness of 
the court, where there was no true friend to 
count on, it was the merriest company. The 
loneliness was when she was lost in the crowd. 

But when the bluebells lay thick upon every 
rock ledge of the island, sweet smelling and 
bluest blue in their fresh green leaves; when 
the cuckoos called loud from shore to shore, 
and the sun was strong, looking down into the 
depths of the still water and counting every 
different stone, laid clear and fair in its crystal 
bed, and the minnows flickered over them; 
then sometimes she would weep a little to 
herself as she sat. She could not tell why, if 
it were not that she was in dread of the time 
when he would be again among his own people, 


and hdrs the less: when she would have to be 
as any other house-mistress, and his the less : 
judged by their words and fettered by their 
ways. Then life would no longer be so free 
and so loving as it was to the wood-biders. 

But when the spring flowers were all gone 
and the nights were sultry and dark again, she 
wept no more: for she had new company: a 
little thing that reached out its hands to 
her from the bundle of furs where it lay, 
and that made such quaint faces as were a 
wonder and a lasting gazing-stock. There 
was time now for nothing but to watch it, 
and fondle it, and feed it : and if at first the 
island was a sweet home to her, now it was 
more lovely than ever, to be there with her 
big man, and her little man, and none to let 
or hinder. 

After a while they made a great journey 
over the fells, and came to Duddon side 
again, to the strange old priest, that he might 
christen the child. They called it Swein after 
Thorstein's father, as in duty bound, though 
the priest halted somewhat at the name, so 
outlandish and unchristian as it seemed to his 
way of thinking. However he blessed the 
child, and bade it prosper, and they took their 
way home without mishap: and the journey 
gave them talk for many a day to follow. 

So they won through the second winter, 

with never a thought of wearying either of 

one another or of their home. Now they 

cleared a little thwaite of land over against the 


4Wf x) S Vi\? Sfc^\-ATK 

OT/iTo>i N ^ " v 

filtoBi x Sm.v 

R&infcaeh on the 

island, and kept a goat or two, and sowed a 
patch of oats, so that their porridge-stuff need 
not be so far to seek, and milk for the barn 
should be plenty. And the summer went by 
in game and glee, and they had no fears for the 

For a Yule-gift they got another guestling, 
whom they carried in a while to the priest, 
tripping through the woods with him in his 
mother's arms, and the sturdy Swein on his 
father's shoulder. They called the baby Thor- 
stein : and when they saw him and his brother 
wax and thrive, they laughed a bit sometimes 
to think of the day when they should take 
their piglings that Unna had foretold, to show 
the grandame at Greenodd. 

Yet with all this well-being there was some- 
what wrong. What with his own labour and 
his strong friends, Thorstein got all he wanted 
for bed or board : and with a sweet wife and 
bonny barns he was set up with the best of 
company. Over and above which, he knew in 
his heart that he was now no outcast of holy 
church, though seldom he saw priest or heard 
those words of life he had stumbled at long 
since. Nowadays, what talks he had with 
Raineach, and reasonings of unknown things, 
piecing together his scraps of learning with 
hers, as an old wife plans patchwork : for all 
the bits must fit into the pattern, whether or 
no they matched. 

And some bits would not fit, such words as 
told folk to be at one among themselves, and 

that promised peace between mankind. There 
was he, out of law and no man's neighbour. 
Peace with God his heart told him he had ; 
but peace with man was still far to seek : and 
if all he had done, and all his friends had 
done, gave him not that peace, how could 
God command it ? how would God provide it ? 
And being no dreamer, but a man with his 
eyes open, he knew right well that, if to-day 
was fair, to-morrow might be foul. So far 
his foes had given him a wide berth; but 
says he "When I am gone, who will take my 
lads by the hand, and give them their place 
among their fellows, and assure them land and 

" Heed it not," Raineach would answer. 
"Are not they as well as thou in God's 

"Who heeds it?" he would say. "Not I. 
And yet!" 

" Oh man, speak fair and be thankful." 
" I do speak fair, and I am thankful," said 
he: "and yet!" 

UT what about Asdis, all this CHAPTER 
while ? She was never the XLVI. 
worse off, whatever happened. UNBIDDEN 
tShe was too wise to spoil her GUESTS. 
'looks with weeping, and too 
pretty to sit long at Asmundar- 
lea waiting for a new husband. She lighted 
on her feet, like a cat, wherever she fell: and 
before many months was purring by another 
fireside, with the cream of the milk to lap. 


But as she blinked in the fireglow, she was 
only watching her mouse. 

The land was not so bare of people as it 
had been twenty winters since. Bit by bit, as 
the days went on, the dales were cleared and 
inhabited. From the low country one after 
another went up to take land among the fells. 
For the Northmen could never abide close 
quarters. They hated towns, and loved a free 
life : a spot to themselves, with elbow-room ; 
a seat on a howe overlooking broad fields and 
fell-pastures, with the smoke of the next 
neighbour's hall rising far away through the 
green wood. It was one thing to have good 
friends within hail and call, but another to be 
thrust among folk in one of those stinking 
swine-styes, said they, where the Saxons 
herded. And so their biggings crept up from 
the shore of Leven and Duddon, and from 
nook to nook the house-reek rose, like bale-fires 
lighted to tell the world that this Lakeland 
was the land-take of the Northmen. 

Therefore all the coming and going of Thor- 
stein could not fail to be spied, and the tale 
sped from mouth to mouth, time and again, 
and lost little in its travels. In a while it 
came to dame Asdis, where she sat with black 
anger in her heart against Thorstein, and 
against the wild she-wolf of the fells who had 
stolen him out of her arms. And in all this 
she blamed herself never one whit, and folk 
came to look on her as a fair woman with 
great wrongs to avenge. 

In a time of quiet, when ill men are aweary 
of peace, and stirring men hanker after the 
adventures of old days, no great work was 
needed to egg on rough fellows to the job she 
had on hand. A gang of lads and louts was 
drawn together, and some silly vow got out of 
them that they would rid the land of the 
wood-biders: and all as if it had been some 
great deed. 

Now the island was but very little known to 
the North-folk at the back of the fells ; but one 
thing they knew, and this was that they could 
not come at it without boats : and if they 
stayed boat-building they would be spied and 
foreset. But said Asdis, "Wait until the apple 
drops. Why build a boat to cross a bridge ? " 
At which they gaped, but she bade them watch 
the birds and the bushes. 

For that third winter began to be a hard 
winter. The swallows went early, and the 
wild swans came in flocks from the north. 
Choups and holly-berries reddened the hedges ; 
and after Yule the fells were creamed over and 
the becks dwindled. As the days lengthened 
so the cold strengthened, until even the sunny 
shores of Leven and Duddon were frozen fast ; 
and when a high tide came, it burst the floe, 
and left the sands and mosses strewn for many 
a mile with huge blocks and tables of ice, piled 
one upon another like peats to dry. Then 
Asdis rubbed her hands and said, " Now, lads, 
your bridge will be built." 

So they set out and away through the snowy 

KK 273 

woods until they came to the waterside of 
Thurston-mere ; and there was a sight. Still 
as death the white fells stood around. Still as 
death the lake spread, white and black ; white 
where the snow hid it, and black in great 
reaches that could hardly be known from 
standing water, but that its soft ripples stirred 
not, and the picture of wood and fell lay upon 
them clearer and quieter than the shapes in a 
tarn on a summer day, for all the north-wind's 
blowing. The only thing that moved was a 
wreath of smoke on the fell-side over against 
them, and the likeness of the same wreath in 
the glassy field below. And where the two 
wreaths met was a crag, standing up from the 
flat ; an island no longer. 

They adventured from the snowy shore, 
hardly knowing when they were on land and 
when on lake, until suddenly, beneath their 
feet, deep down, they saw the stones lying at 
the bottom, clear in the sunlight, through the 
wonderful floor, such as the floor of Heaven 
may be to them that walk upon it, and look 
down upon us thence. Slowly now and warily 
the men went, for the ice was smooth and 
slape; and if it was roughened at all, it was 
not with waves, but as if stars and arrow-heads 
of crystal had been inlaid in glass, like the 
silver a smith inlays in steel. 

Then as they walked there arose a strange 

turmoil in the stillness. Far and wide the ice 

began to crack and settle, with groanings and 

thunderings that roared and muttered from 


shore to shore. Across the black, clear deep 
there flew white, ragged lightnings, on either 
hand, before and behind, as when one watches 
a thunderstorm in the valley beneath a lofty 
mountain. Then a great crack flitted scream- 
ing right under their feet, and half the 
company turned and scattered, crying out 
there was witch-work in it, and they were 
lost. But as they staggered and slid and fell 
others cursed them for fools, and kicked them 
up again, and egged them on ; showing them 
how to set feet together and shove themselves 
along with their spears thrust hard behind 
them upon the ice. And so they won a mile 
or so to the island. 

But before they were half way over, the 
smoke shot up into a thick cloud, and flames 
flickered ; and over the waste of white and 
black, above the moaning and groaning of the 
ice field, arose the deep note of a horn, stifled 
and quivering at first, and strengthening into 
a hollow peal, that suddenly stayed. As 
suddenly it was answered from the fell; and 
then again from the Beacon hill behind ; and 
then again far down the valley; and then 
again far up the lake ; until the sky was 
ringing with it. They stood in amaze to 
listen; and the flame blazed higher, and the 
smoke rolled in coils, brown against the white 
moorland. Again the war-horn pealed, and 
the answers came ; and when the last had died 
away, another answer, over and above the 
echoes, a faint clang, far down the Crake. 


And then there was only the groaning of the 
ice to hear; and the island, when they came 
to it, was nothing but a snowy rock, un- 
tenanted, for aught they could see, and lifeless, 
but for the great fire. 

All round the brink the slape ice shelved 
away, by the settling of the lake, so that 
footing was bad to get. The rock went down 
sheer into the smooth floor, grey and bare 
beneath and heaped with pillowy snow above, 
from which hung fringes of icicles, like teeth of 
a dragon in northern deeps. They scrambled 
up the shelving slide, and grasped at the rocks 
to break away the icicles and beat down the 
snow, for hand-hold and foot-hold. But as 
they strove up the lower rocks, half smothered 
with the mealy drift, two heads came out upon 
the top of the crag, and two great stones rolled 
among them. And those they fell upon cried 
but once. 

Then began a storm of stones from above, 
to which they could make no reply, for the 
defenders were hidden behind the highest 
ridge, and safe from shot. Even if the 
attackers could make a shift to use bow and 
dart, and that they could seldom in their 
eagerness to win upward, and in their un- 
steady footing, their weapons only rattled 
down among them again from the icebound 
rock. And so this went on for a while, until 
many had been maimed, and some killed 
outright. The nearer they got, the steeper 
and more dangerous were the battlements of 

that castle built without hands : a long wall, 
high enough and steep enough to be difficult 
any day, but hopeless in this snow and frost, 
with the great stones plunging down, well 
aimed from above. 

They drew off to the open and held council. 
In a while they broke into two bands, and 
went round the island to try for scaling spots, 
and to break in on both hands at once. Now 
the ends of the island are less brant than its 
sides, for there is a way up between the ridges, 
both to north and south. But nobody who 
meant to hold the place would fail to stop 
those doors with some stockading at least, if 
not a good stone wall : and so they were 
brought to a standstill here as heretofore. 
The north end was not only well blocked, but 
the rocks there are stiff and steep for this 
work; and of the two defenders one followed 
each company round about, never leaving them 
alone, what with stones, what with hand-strokes 
when they tried the wooden palings. And if 
fire was hot within the hold, it was all frost 
without, and never a spark to set the doors 

So now they met together at the south end, 
where the twin harbour lies between the calf 
and the crag. They began to swarm up a 
buttress that makes a narrow ladder to the 
top, easy enough to climb if it were not for the 
ice that sheeted it, and for the rough welcome 
that awaited the first man on the sharp and 
perilous crest. By this the far-away fells 


stood rosy red and dim around; the sky was 
like fire behind Beacon fell, and the cold floor 
of ice seemed to be all one lake of blood. The 
bale on the crag reeked and roared, and out of 
the smoke came a sword that lopped the first 
comer like a bough, and sent him rolling down 
the unbroken rock for many an ell. Then they 
were aware of the wood-biders standing over 
them, each with a weapon. They took heart 
and shuffled up the harder, shouting curses, 
and what they would do when they won to the 
top. But the next comer rolled into the bay 
with his brains knocked out. That was the 
doing of a big stick that swung round and 
about in the hands of Raineach. 

" Well done, lass," shouted Thorstein, who 
kept his distance from her, however. " It's 
not for nothing she's a giant's daughter," he 
laughed, for he was warming to the work. 

But then the children waked behind them, 
stirred by the noise ; and they screamed. 
Raineach was scared lest some of the rascals 
had got in the back way, and she flew to seek 
them. The carles below set up a jeer, and 
three or four flung in at once. One was down, 
and another was down ; but Thorstein's sword 
bent ; and as he kneeled on it to straighten it, 
the others were at him. They had him on his 
back, and a stroke would have done their job; 
but out came Raineach with such a swingeing 
batt of her club on the one of them, as broke 
his backbone like a rotten stick ; and she 
gripped the other by the throat and hauled 

him off. She lugged and tugged, and fairly 
lifted him off his feet, and bundled him over 
the edge among his fellows. Up springs 
Thorstein with a great shout, and she beside 
him ; and every mother's son that could stir 
a limb scattered off the edge in a flock. The 
weight of them all coming down together broke 
the ice where it was rotten from the warmth of 
the flat rock, that caught and kept the morning 
sun; and they went into the hole like corn 
into the miller's hopper. It was deep there : 
the rock goes down at once into the lake, and 
rises again in ugly teeth, bound to cut a 
swimmer's knees, let alone the edges of the 
broken ice. He with the lopped arm, their 
leader in the assault, after a few wild strokes 
went down in a red spot. The rest struggled 
out, to the nearest shore, and shouted them- 
selves hoarse with their anger. 

Thorstein and Raineach went up to look 
at the man whose back was broken. He 
cried for water, and she gave him to drink. 
Thorstein stood over him, fierce and stern. 

"Who sent thee, man?" he said. 

But they got nothing out of him, and in 
a while he died. 

And then, when all was over, Raineach 
burst into a blurt of weeping. "What, lass! 
what, lass!" said Thorstein, as she shook and 
sobbed in his arms; "hold up, my little one; 
all's right now. I warrant we see no more of 
them. There's not a scratch on thee, and I 
am none the worse but for a bruise or two. 


What's there to greet for?" 

" It's not that," she sobbed. 

"Here, then; take the barn: hark how he is 
crying on his mother." Then as the sobs 
shook her, and the baby at her breast, said 
Thorstein, staring at them, and biting a twig, 
" Eh, queer things women are. Aye, and," 
says he, " there's women and women." 

And so Asdis goes out of the story. 

When the stars were shining, they had 
more guests, not unbidden, though late to the 

" Kinsman," said Hundi, as he panted and 
caught his breath, between draughts of milk 
in the cot on the island ; " Kinsman, no more 
of this. To the Althing thou goest this 
mid-summer, if I drag thee yonder by the 
scruff of the neck." And "Aye, goes he," 
said the half score of men that had come 
hot-foot from Lowick. 

" Never saw I woman more scared than 
Halldora when thy horn sounded." 

" Scared was she," said one of them: "but 
for a scare, oh boys, the master capped all. 
Snail? says I, as I peltered after him. Hare! 
says I, Hundi Harefoot's the word!" 

Hundi caught him by the hand, laughing. 
"A forfeit," he cried, "to fasten the name! 
But Thorstein, my man, get thy peace, and let 
us share it. Life is not worth living, with 
this horn-blowing to look for." 

So when mid-summer was come, Thorstein 
set forth alone, sorely as Raineach grudged his 


leaving her. She said it was for no good he 

was going. But he kissed her, and said she 

should be mistress of Blawith before the 

summer was out. "That may be," she said, 

"but never so happy as here." 

'HORSTEIN travelled over the CHAPTER 
tells to the waterhead of the XLVIL THE 
great lake we call Windermere, HOST OF 
meaning to stay there for the WEIRD. 
night, and so to come upon the 
Althing when folk were at their 

meeting about mid-day. But when he was at 

the door of the Welshmen's cots, in that old 

ruin of the Romans, there was a great noise 

within ; and he spied a many Northmen sitting 

there at drink, and among them some faces he 

knew and misliked. They too were on their 

way to Legburthwaite : and no sooner did he 

darken the door but they leapt up and ran at 

him. He had no mind to redden his hands 

with them, just when he was going to sue for 

his peace : and away he went, out of the great 

road and into the woods again. 
This was a part he knew but little, and yet 

he found a track that led him up a steep dell 

and over a hause where was a wonderful big 

stone, like a kirk, by the way side, with high 

fells running up on either hand. Before him 

lay the great deep valley, reaching away 

northward, and all its forests and crags purple 

and golden in the summer afternoon. Here 

and there was a gleam of water ; and far in 

the distance, smoke rising as if from the houses 

LL 28l 

of men. The path led onward and downward, 
rough and steep. He followed it for a good 
while, and came to a tarn which afterwards 
the Northmen called Brotherwater, from the 
ancient road that passed by. Then he was on 
the floor of the valley, with the steep heights 
all around and above : and it was but an hour 
or so to the village of Patrickdale. 

This was another of those few spots in the 
fell country where people were found before the 
Northmen came into Lakeland. The dwellers 
were mostly like the rougher sort of fell-folk, 
and their cots were of the poorest, scattered, 
and buried in wood. And yet they had a 
church in their midst, if it were no more than 
a cell; where a kind of hermit priest lived, 
and in the one little chamber slept upon the 
ground, and ate his crust, and performed the 
holy service, with nothing but a rough stone 
for his altar and another for his pillow. 

Thorstein sat down weary and hungered 
at the church door, and knocked upon it. 
Presently in the quiet village there was a 
barking of dogs that echoed from crag to crag 
around: and then the church door opened, 
and the priest came out with a thumping big 
stick upheld in one hand, while he unbarred 
the iron-hasped door with the other. 

Thorstein bade him have peace, for it was a 
Christian and a wayfarer who begged for alms. 
He spoke in the fell-folk's tongue, reckoning 
that whether the priest were English or Irish 
he must speak so in his cracks with the 

country-folk hereabouts. So the priest let him 
into the church and from an ark brought out 
a bowl of sour milk and a cake of rye bread. 

"Maybe now," said Thorstein, "this is all 
thou hast." 

" All I have here," said the priest. " But 
there are good neighbours." 

So Thorstein drank the milk at a draught, 
and ate the cake in two mouthfuls. 

" I am no stranger in these parts," said he, 
" but I never was here before." 

"Like enough not," said the priest. "We 
call this St. Patrick's church, for on this spot 
many a lifetime back the glorious and blessed 
Patrick preached: and in the well hard by 
christened both men and women that heard 
him. And here in this desert, unworthy as I 
am, I strive to keep the lamp alight, as those 
that watch for their Lord." 

They talked together awhile, for the priest 
seemed right glad of a friendly face other than 
those of his rough flock, goats he called them, 
" for lambs they be not indeed, but very 
mountain goats. And yet God forgive me 
for saying an ill word of them," added he: 
"for I mind me of the days when I was in 
the world. There was as much hardness of 
heart and stiffneckedness among our townsfolk 
yonder at Dacor " 

But now there was a noise without, and the 
dogs barking again. More than that, eager 
voices. Out stepped the priest to hear what 
the news might be, bidding Thorstein stay 


where he was, or he would not answer for 

There was a couple of men, fighting-men 
of Domhnaill's they seemed by their weapons; 
but no great champions, by their faces. 
Around them a knot of rough villagers, half 
clothed in skins, and shaggy-headed, with 
staves in their hands. They all talked long 
and loud. Thorstein could just hear some- 
thing about an army and flight and slaughter; 
but he deemed it wise to do as the priest bade 
him, lest he should be mis-kenned and mauled 
by that rabble. 

" Lord help us," said the priest coming back 
into the church: "God and all blessed Saints 
protect us. Ill tidings, young man. Awful 
tidings. But as the mountains stand round 
about Jerusalem, even so the Lord stands 
round us who fear him." 

Then between prayers and sighs he told the 
news. These were two men of the dale who 
had gone to fight in DomhnailPs army, called 
out but lately. It seemed that Eadmund the 
English king had been warring in the North 
against Dornhnaill's people in Strathclyde, and 
against the vikings in Galloway: and having 
wasted far and wide, he was entered into 
Cumberland where Domhnaill, though he had 
fled from place to place, thought to make 
another stand: and so had called out every 
man he could levy. But still he got the worst 
of it, and fled before the Saxons: and no 
wonder, for with the Saxons there were 


Malcolm king of Scots and a host of his, and 
Llewelyn of Wales with his men, a terrible 
great multitude. Last night they lay at 
Penrith, and Domhnaill was pressing his men 
forward towards the fell-country, hoping either 
to escape into the mountain fastnesses, or to 
entangle his enemies in some strait pass 
among rocks and swamps, and so destroy 
them. But, before these men fled from his 
army, it had been given out that he aimed at 
the mountain road to the city of Helvellyn. 

" What," cried Thorstein, " beside our 
Northmen's meeting place? Aye, father, 
though I am Christian, I am a Northman born, 
and neither Dane nor Saxon. Tell me, oh 
man, tell me how I may come to them and 
give them warning. Is there a way over yon 
crags? It cannot be far: and yet the rocks 
stand up like walls of heaven." 

The priest took him to the door and pointed 
out a deep dale that runs up into the fells : 
Grizedale we call it now. When he was at 
the head of that dale he would find a tarn : 
then he was to take the valley to his right 
hand, and it would bring him to the hause 
above the city of Helvellyn. " But," said he, 
" it is trackless forest : none rougher in our 
mountains. And it teems with wild swine. 
If it were for a boar-hunt with a party of stout 
fellows, no place could be fitter. But for a 
lone traveller, at speed, and a stranger, I 
doubt the end of the journey might be nearer 
than its goal." 


" Path or no path, boars or bears," cried 
Thorstein running back into the church for 
his weapons, " I must try it and that hastily." 

"Stay," said the priest. "There is another 
way, if thou canst climb the rocks like a wild 
cat, and keep a cool head while the eagles 
scream around thee. I know this only by 
report : but men have climbed above the woods 
where all is open grass or naked rock, and so 
across over Helvellyn. They say it is a fearful 
place : no otherwise than when one mounts a 
ladder against a castle-wall: but that this is 
terrible in its loftiness and horror beyond any 
high tower or deep sea-crag. And the night is 
at hand." 

"The night," said Thorstein, "is fair, and 
never wholly dark at this season. As for crags 
and the dangers of the fells, I have fared 
through a many before now. Point me out 
the way, father." 

It was the clear gloaming of summer mid- 
night when he had forced his way through the 
woods that clothed the valley side, and that 
crept up the crags like moss on a stone. He 
was on Striding-edge : forest and fell around 
him were black, a tossing surge of darkness ; 
in which gleamed ugly and strange the great 
lake, that reached away into distance of slaty 
gloom. On the ridge there was light from the 
north, a brown light, no more than enough 
to see footing and hand-hold. But when his 
foot slipped, and a great stone rolled from 
under it, there was a crash and a roar that 

raised the echoes all round the cove, as the 
stone whirled and leapt towards the round tarn 
that he could hardly discern in the blackness, 
how far below he could not reckon. And on 
the other hand it was no less steep. Pinnacles 
of rock stood up along the abyss, and in 

front a great mass, a wall it seemed in the 
uncertain gloom, unapproachable. With the 
falling stones the eagles were roused, and 
sailed screaming about him : so that he clung 
to the ridge, and drew his sword. 

Then he came to a place where the rock fell 
away into darkness: and he sat doubting the 
priest's guidance, and scanning the black wall 
that rose over-head before him : for he was 
weary by now and began to be faint with 
hunger. He cast overboard his shield that he 


had carried so far, and it fell down the rock but 
a little way, and then caught. He followed it 
and found it, and then scrambled up the wall ; 
which turned out to be no more than a scree- 
slope, though it was one of the stiffest. 

From Helvellyn top he saw the arch of 
light in the north again, sunset and dawn in 
one, streaked with black bars of cloud. But 
underneath them, strong against the meshes 
of faint daffodil colour, and the lowest band of 
dusky red, stood out the lines of Skiddaw and 
Blencathra, the shapes he knew right well of 
old, and welcomed joyfully. He ran along the 
brown and rounded grassy summit, forgetting 
his weariness, until Thirlmere gleamed beneath 
him, the winding lake with its steep shores, 
and the crags where he had first met Aluinn 
and Domhnaill. Then, how high that mountain 
eyrie of theirs had seemed : but now it was 
nought but a heave in the dark land that was 
spread out before him like an embroidered 
garment cast upon the floor. 

Then, as he went forward, wary of the 
swamps that lie among the grass of those 
great mountain-backs, he saw a man come up 
on the moorland, but from some point farther 
north ; and run, as he had run, across toward 
Thirlmere. " He will be another of the fleers," 
said Thorstein to himself. " He is bound for 
the Northmen's camp, like me." And he 
shouted, and tried to overtake him, but in 
vain. Then came up two or three others : 
they were dimly seen and grey in that twilight : 

but he could make them out enough to know 
that they carried weapons, and fled in haste. 
He shouted again; but no answer. Then more 
followed : and he could see that among the 
newcomers were pursuers as well as pursued: 
and now one fell, and was killed outright before 
his eyes. But there was no sound of shouting: 
and as he ran toward them he seemed to come 
no nearer, whether it was that the twilight 
put him out of his reckoning, or what. And 
then came a flock of men marching forward 
with banner and spear, aye, and horses 
among them, and chariots, on the bare moun- 
tain-top, with pathless crags behind and in 
front, where no army could have marched in 
order, nor waggon have gone upon wheels. 
But still they crossed over, a very great 
multitude, under the broken light that held his 
eyes fixed to northward. He stayed running, 
and listened. The waterfalls roared beneath : 
but not a sound was there of living men ; 
neither tramp nor shout : and still they passed. 
Terror was upon him now, and his knees 
shook. He looked behind him, and out of 
the deep blackness a few great stars shone, 
and around was the moorland with its strange 
forms, and he knew not what else, crowding 
upon him. With a cry he fled down the grassy 
slope. It fell away steeper and steeper. He 
stumbled among the hidden stones: but he 
could not stay his feet ; and down he rolled 
from rock to rock, into the thunder of Hel- 
vellyn gill. 

MM 289 


T Legburthwaite the morning 
was wild. The wind had risen 
in the night and brought rain. 
The clouds were low, raking 
along the fell sides, and one 
could hardly see the crags 
across the valley for greyness. 

The Althing was not yet hallowed, for the 
Northmen were not met together. Some early 
comers had arrived and spent the night in their 
booths, rough hut-walls, unroofed, put up of 
old to serve for lodging at these summer 
meetings, and covered, when the time was, 
with tent-cloths cast over them. A group of 
elder men sat talking in the rain : others were 
setting up the bounds of the doom-ring, driving 
in the posts with pick and mallet, and cutting 
hazel poles in the copse hard by, to lay across 
from stake to stake. Others were repairing 
the winter's damage to the turf seats within 
the ring, where the chiefs and the jurymen 
were to sit. 

Down from Helvellyn side, through the 
driving rain, crept a battered man, slowly 
working his way among the boulders of the 
slope. He dragged himself up to the group 
of elders, and they saw that he was newly 
wounded, and foredone with toil and travel. 

Then said one, "This is Thorstein Sweinson 
of the Mere : he that slew his brother. Away, 
fellow: the place is not hallowed yet; there is 
no peace to be got now for such as thee." 
Said another, "Let be: the wood-bider is 

not here for nought, and maybe has a story 
to tell." 

But he gaped upon them and could not 
speak. So they gave him to drink. 

"Thanks, friend," he said. "Neighbours, 
do with me as you will, but hear me. Domh- 
naill is fleeing before the Saxons. He is upon 
us even now. Last night I saw two of his 
men : they had fled to their home in the fells. 
They said that Eadmund the English king was 
at DomhnaiU's heels, and with him Malcolm 
the Scot and Llewelyn of Wales with a great 
multitude. Domhnaill was for leading them 
hither, to entrap them if he could ; or to escape 
into the mountains. I have fled night-long 
over yon high fells to bring the news. And 
I have seen them. On the top of the 
mountains I saw the hosts pursuing and 
pursued. Whether it was a vision I cannot 
tell: but the tidings are truth." 

" Here be fine dreams," said the first speaker, 
"and mid-summer madness." 

" Dreams or no dreams, the man is spent 
with travel and battered, and he gives his 
head into our hands for the sake of the 
tidings. We shall soon see whether they be 
true. Meanwhile, my lad, come into my 
booth and be fed." 

Thorstein had hardly brought hand to 
mouth, when there was a stir without, and 
the foremost flyers of DomhnaiU's army came 
by. They were the guard of the king's wife 
and children, and a troop of pack-horses with 


them, heavily laden, maybe with treasure. 
They made no stay, but for a hasty word, 
and away toward the city of Helvellyn. 

The Northmen, taking short counsel to- 
gether, agreed to draw out of their booths, 
and to make a stand upon the Thingmount, 
and so abide what might happen. Why they 
should thus meddle, when they might have 
escaped with the foremost flyers, or easily 
hidden in the woods, who can say? except 
that they were bred fighting-men, and thought 
scorn to leave their own Thing-stead without 
so much as a stroke. 

So there in battle array they stood, on their 
mound where the four dales met, and the 
great crags around. Over against them the 
path crept by the skirts of the fells ; on this 
side the Greta and on that Helvellyn beck: 
and the clouds flying low, and the rain driving. 

Out of the mist came the flyers, horse 
galloping and foot running; whoever was sound 
and unwounded outpacing his fellows, as they 
streamed up the road and into the mist again. 
Then came the wearied men, some of them 
wounded and some scant of breath and half 
blind with toil and with watching under arms, 
pushing and pressing along the narrow path; 
here and there one falling with a groan, and 
kicked out of the way into the river, or 
screaming as the horses stamped the life out 
of him. And so they swept past, while the 
Northmen cried to them across the dale to 
turn and stand by their friends. 

Then there was a pause, and the sound of 
the pursuers shouting along the vale of St. 
John; and presently their van-guard was seen 
pressing along the road, Welsh they were of 
Llewelyn's company, to whom the foremost 
place had been given in this enterprise because 
they were mountain men, and led where the 
Lowlanders, with all the fire of the chase, 
sometimes held back from following. 

When they came to the place where they 
could see the Northmen in array on the howe, 
they were brought to a standstill: and fresh 
comers behind them crowded at their rear, 
like the wreckage of a streaming flood, when 
one great bough is held fast at a force-head. 
Then they crossed the flat field, and stood on 
the bank of Helvellyn beck, and cried to the 
Northmen to come down and yield themselves. 
But the Northmen shouted in answer, and gave 
them a flight of spears : and when spears were 
spent, stones and the turf of the Thing seats, 
and everything that was handy. Soon the 
Welshmen, seeing how few they had to deal 
with, and how many of their own men had 
come up by this time, took heart, and rushed 
up the bank shoulder to shoulder. But along 
the bank top it was shield to shield, and a line 
of whirling blades: and down the wave rolled 

By this time the main army was coming 
up, and the cry was for bowmen. For in those 
days it was not as it was in later times, when 
every English foot-soldier carried his long-bow. 


Spear to throw and axe to hew with, were 
their main weapons. The Welsh stood aside, 
and a file of archers passed through the host, 
and formed in a line on the Thing-field, while 
the rest ransacked the booths. Together the 
bowmen drew their bows, and at a shout of 
command to let fly, the Northmen fell flat 
under their shields, and the flight of arrows 
hurtled over them. 

But while this was going forward, behind the 
line of archers other companies crept this way 
and that ; and through the cover of the wood 
on Great Howe other bowmen climbed up to 
take advantage of the higher ground, and to 
get the Northmen below them. And soon 
there was a rattling on shield and helm and 
coat of mail. When the enemy saw that they 
were beginning to be discomfited, spears were 
levelled, and up they rushed in a thick throng 
on all sides at once, man pressing man from 
behind, so that there was no turning nor 
fleeing. Down went the first comers all round 
the line of red blades: but the shield that 
Thorstein had carried, and lost, and saved 
again, was burst through, and a broken shaft 
left in it, and the strap was riven. He took it 
in both hands and hurled it edgewise: and 
shouted when it caught a big fellow in the 
teeth and drove him backwards into the thick 
of the crowd below. 

" Well thrown, wood-bider," said his next 
neighbour. "I'll be thy shield-man this holm- 
gang:" as he caught a stroke on his target, 

and Thorstein leapt out from behind him and 
cut down the man who had given it. So it 
was hand to hand and sword to spear for a 
while, over the ring of fallen bodies. But the 
Northmen shook them off, and thrust them 
down the brink again. 

Then one upon the Thing-stead began to 
sing, and then another, in staves of verse that 
seemed to set their fellows' hearts on fire. 
They shouted at their foes, giving them every 
ill name and stinging jest that might prick 
them to a new attack. But the only answer 
was the hail of arrows from above : and if the 
rain washed the Northmen white, there was 
red enough running to need it. Hardly one 
among them but had some hurt. Thorstein, 
who was no whole man to start with, and ill 
clad for this play, was the worse for more than 
a scratch. 

"Neighbours," said he, "why are we stand- 
ing still to be shot down like deer ? " 

Then forth he leapt, and down the slope, 
hewing right and left, and leaving a lane 
through the crowd. His friends followed close 
in a band, and the enemy drew back before 
them, and closed behind them. The Northmen 
were like a wild beast in a net. 

" Look you there," said Thorstein, holding 
out a bladeless hilt: "was ever such rotten 

" It has done a day's work," said his friend 
with the shield. 

" Nay, not a forenoon's." 



Me sat down upon a stone, JHis friend took 
him under the shoulder to lift him on. " We 
shall win through yet," said he. 

But Thorstein fell over on the red grass. 
" Let be," said the elder who had known 
him at the first. "He has got his peace. 
Forward all!" 

ING Eadmund stood upon the 
brink of Thirlmere, and scanned 
the shore on either side. His 
enemies had vanished as if by 
art magic. There lay the path, 
running down to the ford, and 
up again on the farther side, and it could be 
traced winding under the terrible crags whose 
tops were lost in clouds, and away into huge 
headlands and shaggy promontories plunging 
into the water, one beyond another, until they 
faded afar in the rain and mist. 

On this hand king Malcolm, and on that 
hand king Llewelyn, were instant to go forward 
and follow the road: but the Lowland king, 
brave as he was in fight and bold in counsel, 
hung back from the attempt and from following 
unseen foes into unknown fastnesses. 

While they talked, across the wath came 
two or three men, gaunt and red-bearded and 
clothed in skins. They waved their hands 
above their heads as if to signify that they 
came in peace : and the king bade bring them 
before him. At their first words, " King," 
said Malcolm, "these are folk of mine, or 
should be: for it it is our tongue they have. 

Let me be interpreter." 

Then the fell-folk told the kings that Domh- 
naill and his men were lurking in the woods, 
ready to roll rocks upon their enemies. But 
they could show the Saxons how to get the 
better of the ambush. 

Asked by what device, they said that fell- 
climbers could reach the top of the brow under 
which Domhnaill lay ; and once there, a few 
men could roll rocks on him as he had meant 
to roll rocks upon the Saxons: and then the 
main army could pursue them along the road, 
which was no worse than that by which they 
had come. 

" And a good counsel it is, king," said 
Malcolm, when he had interpreted: "and one 
that we use often in our mountain warfare. 
Give the business into my hand, and you shall 
see them swarm out of the woods like ants out 
of a stirred anthill." 

" But what faith can we put in the word of 
these savages?" asked Eadmund. 

They said proudly that it was so as they had 
spoken, and they were in the hand of the kings 
to reward or to slay. "And beside that," said 
one of them with a scowl, " we have an old 
grudge of our own to settle with Domhnaill." 

So the army moved over the wath, and the 
main body halted on the road, ready for the 
chase when the game was beaten out of cover. 
Malcolm with a band of mountain men, guided 
by the red folk, climbed the brow of Armboth 
fell: and when they were at the top, set to 

NN 297 

work heaving rocks over the edge. There 
was a crashing among trees, and shouts and 
shrieks; and presently men were beheld fleeing 
down the screes among the woods, and the 
great stones whirling down after them. Such 
as got away, streamed out into the road, and 
fled along it up and down, like worms out of a 
dunghill when it is beaten to get baits. Then 
the trumpets were blown that should signal to 
the men above to leave their work : and forth 
marched the army in hot pursuit, along the 
path and along the low foreshore of the lake, 
and then mounting over the crags where they 
were high, and descending again among rocks, 
and cliffs, and wild wood, that overhung the 
length of the lake. And at last they looked 
down upon the city of Helvellyn. 

Here for a while they were brought to a stand : 
the walls of great stones, and the swampy 
flats on one side of it, threatened to hold them 
longe'r than they liked. The day was wearing, 
and if the nut were cracked the kernel was not 
eaten yet. So they took up their stand on the 
high ground between the city and the fell, and 
the trumpets sounded an assault. 

Then was there shouting, and a terrible cry 
that rose to Helvellyn top, as the Saxons 
clambered up the rugged wall in throngs, and 
leapt over, bearing down the defenders and 
slaughtering all before them. DomhnailPs 
wife and his two children were taken; but 
for the rest it was kill and slay, as men 
ransacked the rude cots within the walls for 

their enemies, and hewed them down where 
they found them. 

But while all this was going forward, a band 
of men was spied making away along the fell 
side. They had escaped by the farther gate and 
along the road ; and the freshest of the Saxons 
who were still outside the walls, and the fleetest 
of their horsemen, were sent in pursuit. But 
the road was rugged and difficult as ever, and 
if they came up with one party, and brought 
it to bay, it was but to waste time, and the 
rest had the better start of them. And so the 
battle went on, at every beck to be forded, 
and every rock to be passed: and especially 
where the great tongue of land at the foot of 
Steel fell stands across the valley, like a twin 
wall of huge earth-works cast up by giants 
long ago. 

The foremost of the flyers was Domhnaill 
himself, running for dear life up the long slope 
of the pass. He was alone now, and on foot. 
One horse after another had fallen under him, 
and of all the army he had led out to its ruin 
not one was there to stand by him. This man 
had come between him and the spear that 
threatened him : that one had turned back to 
keep the hunters in play. They were gone 
now: but he was still a king, if the crown on 
his helmet could make him one. And he 
bethought him of hiding among the moors 
and rocks, anywhere, like a wild beast: and 
he peered this way and that through the rain 
as he ran, with none following, escaped, he 


hoped, at last. He neared the brow of the 
hill : soon it would be down-bank and away; 
surely some woodland dweller would harbour 

Under a hawthorn tree at the summit sat a 
woman, with long golden hair lank in the rain, 
and green gown wet, and clinging to her sides : 
hard featured, and fierce she looked: strange, 
as she rose and stood before him in the way. 
He dashed at her blindly with his sword, but 
she caught his hand; and as he stumbled at 
her feet, the crown fell from his helmet, 
clattering on the stones of the path. She 
took it up, and weighed it in her hand. 

"Domhnaill," she said, "it is mine at last, 

"Oh, Aluinn," he cried, "save me, hide 

She led him by a roaring stream and up a 
steep narrow gill, away from the valley and 
the shouts of the pursuers, aloft into the cloud. 
It was but a step, and they came to a black 
water, shoreless, beyond, for the rain-mist. As 
he sank down, out-wearied, she flung the 
golden thing into the dark tarn. 

" It is safe, there," she said. 

And there they say the crown of Cumbria 
lies to this hour, in the depths of Grizedale 

Domhnaill passed away into the cloud and 
was seen no more in these parts. Folk might 
well believe him to be dead, or gone to fairy- 
land. Whether his flight was spied by some 

of the Northmen coming over Dunmail raise 
toward the Althing which they never held, or 
howsoever it might have been told, the place 
kept his name, changed but a little in alien 
mouths; and still haunted, they say, by the 
fleeing king and the fairy maid flitting before 

CHAPTER ^fJKffiJp^^ERRIBLE was the tale they 
L- THE B^i^SB brou g ht to Hougun about the 

PEACE OF ip^^^istorm of the Lawburg and the 
THORSTEIN gj l^l^lideath of Thorstein and his 

fellows. Though indeed not 
(all of them perished. Hopeless 
as it seemed, some of that band had cut their 
way through the Saxon army and escaped into 
hiding among the rocks and woods on Brack- 
mere bank: and some that had been left for 
dead had been found by their friends when the 
storm was over, and taken up and healed of 
their wounds. But not Thorstein. He lay 
where he fell, within a step of the spot where 
he had slain his brother. They gave him his 
peace, late as it was : for it was not too late to 
let his children inherit the land he had taken 
around Thurston water. 

Hundi and Raud, Mani and the rest of 
their kinsmen and neighbours came together 
and rebuilt the homestead at Blawith, freely 
giving their labour as the custom was; and 
over and above their labour, each comer gave 
a share toward the things that were needed to 
keep house and farm. So that with what she 
had and what she got, Raineach lacked neither 

servants nor stock, furniture within nor gear 

They brought her from the island, and bade 
her dwell in peace on the land that was hers 
and her children's. Many a time came to her 
one and another who would gladly have cast 
in his lot with them for her sake : but she said 
nay to all. After a while she sent for a priest, 
and built him a church at Blawith, that she 
might bring up her household in the right faith 
and fear of God. And before Yule she was the 
mother of a third son to Thorstein, whom she 
called Gartnaidh after her father, for he was 
red-haired and long limbed. 

" Thorstein of the Mere will not want for 
sons to avenge him," said folk, when they 
came to see her. 

"Nay," she said. "He has found his peace. 
Let us keep it." 

But a twelvemonth had not gone by after 
the battle, and mid-summer was not yet 
come, when they heard tidings of the death 
of Eadmund in his own hall at a feast, by the 
hands of an outlaw. The North-folk looked 
at one another, as much as to say it was but 
his due ; vengeance had come upon him already 
for the strife he had stirred up, and especially 
for the sackless and innocent men who had 
fallen with Thorstein Sweinson in the war 
upon Cumberland. 

But the Northmen continued in their homes 
by firth and fell, spite of York earls and Scottish 
kings. For yet a hundred years and more 


they kept their freedom. Their own laws 
they made at their Althing, now in one spot, 
now in another: shifted westward, maybe, to 
Little Langdale after Thored's ravaging of 
Westmorland, and southward after Ethelred's 
harrying of Cumberland. Even when the 
Normans had brought all this border country 
under the feudal yoke, still for many a hundred 
years the dalesmen, children of the vikings, 
used to meet at the Steading-stone by Thirl- 
mere wath, and kept alive some smouldering 
memory of their birthright in the country 
Penalties of Wythburn. And everywhere they 
still have their old manners and their old 
speech, changing little of either, and that but 

The Blawith house endured. Its children 
lived long in the land. When they increased 
so that Blawith was too small for them, across 
the Crake they built a strong place, and called 
it the New Burg, and the ground that it 
stood in, Newburthwaite. Neighbours by- 
named them the Redheads of Nibthwaite ; 
maybe because they took after their kinsmen 
of the fells. There they dwelt, a great family, 
for many a generation, and thereabouts they 
dwell even to this day. For in these dales the 
dream of Unna came true, that saw love 
abiding and labour continuing, heedless of 
glory and fearless of death. 




Popular attention was called to this subject about 
forty years ago by Mr. Robert Ferguson, M.P., F.S.A., 
in his lecture and book on the Northmen in Cumberland 
and Westmorland. Following out the suggestion of 
the great Worsaae, he laid down the main lines of the 
ethnological map, just as William Smith laid down the 
main lines of English geology. In both cases the 
details had still to be more accurately surveyed ; but, 
in spite of much doubt and criticism, the hypothesis grew 
into a theory, and the theory into an article of faith. 
Mr. Freeman accepted it in his History of the Norman 
Conquest (vol. I. app. FF.), and Chancellor Ferguson 
has adopted it in his already standard Histories of 
Cumberland and Westmorland. Various local anti- 
quaries have added to the subject, especially in the 
Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland 
Antiquarian and Archaeological Society ; among which 
may be named the papers of the Rev. T. Ellwood, M.A., 
comparing the language and customs of Lakeland and 
Iceland; and the identification by Mr. H. Swainson 
Cowper, F.S.A., of the Norse Thingstead in Little Lang- 
dale. Mr. Ellwood's " Landnama-bok, as illustrating 
the dialect, &c.," is published separately (T. Wilson, 
Kendal, 1894). 

Our antiquaries, however, have found us no Lakeland 
Saga. The reason is simple. By the time when the 
Sagas were written down, the Norman Conquest and the 
feudal organisation of England had cut these Norse 
colonists away from their kindred, and had begun to 
assimilate them to the condition of the Saxon villeins ; 
while the repeated inroads of the Scots in the i2th 
Century made life insecure, and reduced civilisation in 
the Fells to its lowest terms. Whatever songs and 
stories of Viking ancestors were then current in the 
mouths of the people found no scribe such as Ari the 
learned, or Hall Gizurson. One would have thought 
that in the abbeys of the district some native monk 
might have noted them down, as the Icelandic folklore 


was noted down at Flatey, and Helgafell. But the 
great abbeys hereabouts were founded by aliens, and 
their mental life had no room for local patriotism. 
Jocelyn of Furness, our greatest literary figure in that 
era, was busy with his Celtic legends of St. Patrick and 
St. Kentigern ; at Calder and Holm Cultram it was work 
enough to live, and old tales were nothing to the stir of 
passing events. The saga-period went by ; and in 
another couple of centuries, when the age of Border 
ballads had set in, there were new themes in plenty to 
sing about. The old legends were out of mind, except 
for isolated traditions and surviving names. 

And yet, even at this day, enough of these remain to 
give us glimpses of the past. We can picture the life of 
the Norse settlers from almost contemporary accounts of 
Orkney and Iceland, checked and verified, in details in- 
numerable, by the dialect and customs of the district. 
Their arts, wood-carving and iron-work chiefly, we see 
in the [old interwoven panel-patterns and spiral smith- 
wares, that seem to show a permanence, through several 
centuries, of the ancestral habit of mind. Their public 
institutions we can infer from a comparison of the re- 
maining Lawburgs here, with those elsewhere of which 
there are records in the literature of the North. Their 
attitude towards neighbouring peoples can be surmised 
from general history, which now and then throws a light 
into the darkness. Even the very names of the colonists 
we can read in the map, at the places they seized and 

And so to write this story of Thorstein of the Mere 
the eponymus of our Thurston-water (Coniston Lake) is 
only as it were to string afresh a handful of broken 
beads from an opened cairn. There was a Thorstein's 
saga, no doubt, once upon a time ; or at least ballads of 
the giants on the fell, and the invasion of Eadmund. 
" Thus sung, or would, or could, or should have sung " 
the local skald. And there were old folk of the last 
generation who would sit in the chimney-corner telling 
tales of the past, fragmentary sagas, that had come down 

from they knew not where, but fixed in form, and de- 
livered with animation and with all the richness of the 
rolling dialect. They were belated sagamen. They had 
forgotten the Nor stories, but they kept the Norse 
style. To put a Thorstein's saga into the mouth of an 
old " Statesman " would strain truth but little, imagina- 
tion not at all. 

The belated Sagaman, however, needs a little editing. 
As usual with his tribe, he assumes that you take his 
allusions without explanation and his statements with- 
out reference ; while with a laudable curiosity some 
readers ask for more than he gives. To satisfy them, 
and to justify him, the following pages are added. 


876. Danes from York under Halfdan take Carlisle (see 
PP- 21, 55-) 

880, or thereabouts, the first Norse settlements on 
Solway and Morecambe after Harold's invasion 
of the Irish Sea (pp. 33, 34.) 

913. Ragnwald attacks the Isle of Man (p. 2.) Swein 
comes to Greenodd (p. 3.) 

916-918. Ragnwald king in Waterford (pp. 2, 25.) 

920. Sigtrygg, driven from Dublin, invades Deira (p. 21.) 

923. Ragnwald takes York (p. 25.) Eadward takes Man- 
chester (p. 24.) Thorstein born (p. 3.) 

524. Eadward fortifies Bakewell (p. 26.) The com- 
mendation of Scotland and Strathclyde (p. 27.) 

925. Eadward dies (p. 30.) Succeeded by Athelstan, who 
marries his sister to Sigtrygg (p. 37.) 

926. Great aurora about Easter time (p. 38.) Sigtrygg 
dies (p. 39.) Athelstan takes York ; Sigtrygg's 
sons escape (p. 40.) Peace of Dacre, July 12 (p- 
56.) Eadulf expelled from Bamborough (p. 55.) 

927. Guthferth and Olaf Cuaran take York, and are 

expelled by Athelstan (p. 72,) 
929 or 930, Althing established in Iceland (p. 76.) 
930. Athelstan grants Amounderness to York (p. 73.) 


93i- About this time or later Olaf Cuaran marries 
Constantine's daughter (p. 74.) 

932. Althing at Lcgburthwaite (p. 78.) 

933. Constantine and Owain revolt ; Athelstan ravages 

Scotland (p. 79.) 

934. Thorstein finds Thurston-water, and is taken by the 

Fell-folk (pp. 80-104.) 

937. Great revolt of the North (pp. 113, 118.) Battle 
of Brunanburh (pp. 134, 138, 147, 155.) Athelstan 
founds St. Leonard's at York (p. 252.) Thorstein's 
escape and return to Greenodd (pp. 134-167.) 

938. Thorstein goes to sea (pp. 177, 180.) Thorstein 
Codbiter drowned in Iceland (p. 184.) About this 
time Eric Bloodaxe expelled from Norway by 
Hakon (p. 186,) and set over York by Athelstan 
(p. 192.) 

939. Thorstein visits Iceland and Norway (pp. 184-192), 
and winters in London (pp. 193-195.) 

940. Thorstein comes home in autumn (p. 196.) Athelstan 
dies October 25, succeeded by Eadmund (p. 203.) 

941. Revolt in the North ; Eric expelled from York (p. 
214.) Thorstein marries Asdis, June (p. 213.) Olaf 
takes York (pp. 214-215.) Slaying of Orm and 
Doordoom at Blawith (pp. 223-233.) Thorstein at 
Cartmel during the winter (pp. 239-244.) 

942. Thorstein at York (pp. 245-255.) Ofaf Guthferson 
killed pp. 247, 255.) Thorstein marries Raineach 
and settles on Peel Island, autumn (pp. 255-264.) 

943. Swein Thorsteinson bom, August (p. 268.) 

944. Thorstein Thorsteinson born, Christmas (p. 270.) 

945. Attack on Peel Island, February (pp. 274-280.) 

Eadmund ravages Galloway and Cumbria, ex- 
pels Domhnaill, and grants the land to Mal- 
colm (pp. 284, 295.) Death of Thorstein June 
(p. 294). 

946. Eadmund killed May 26 (p. 303.) 
960. Thored ravages Westmorland (p. 304.) 
975. Domhnaill dies at Rome. 

1000. Ethelred ravages Cumberland (pp. 37, 304.) 

THE MAPS (pp. 32 and 50) are in the last degree tenta- 
tative, and offered only as graphic suggestions of the 
state of the country in the tenth and eleventh centuries, 
rather later than the actual period of the story. 

The Roman roads must have been more or less prac- 
ticable, and though in disrepair, like the ruined roads of 
China, the only available lines of march for an army or 
of travel for trade. In drawing them, Chancellor Ferguson 
(Histories of Cumberland and Westmorland, and sketch 
map in the Archaeological Survey, Archseologia, Vol. 
LIII.) has been followed, with one or two expressions of 
uncertainty. Near Thirlmere the old road on the 
western bank has been traditionally considered as the 
original track, via the Steading Stone, and the ford 
with the so-called Celtic bridge ; all of which is now 
destroyed. Some path thence to Threlkeld along the 
vaie of St. John seems reasonable. The road from Sat- 
terthwaite to Dalton is doubtful ; I have given alterna- 
tive routes, after consultation with Mr. H. Swainson 
Cowper, the district secretary of the Society of Antiqua- 
ries and co-editor of the Survey. From the Thingstead 
at Fellfoot some path must have been practicable south- 
ward, and a study of the ground has suggested the 
straight course to Coniston. Thence the mines' produce 
went to Ambleside, West says ; but the name Greeta- 
gate indicates a road from Duddon Sands to Broughton, 
and towards Coniston, ancient, if not Roman. 

As I have filled the maps with names I suppose I must 
explain them. Those in capitals I take to be Celtic ; a 
few such as Dacor, Penningtun, Stank, are Anglian and 
pre-Norse. In Vidhborran, Glsesartun, Kilvestravegr, 
Berrhofudsegg, may be Celtic loan-words which I have 
elsewhere discussed (" Some Manx Names in Cumbria," 
Trans. C. & W. Ant. Soc.; and rendered as Wide-ruin, 
Brook-town, Cell of the west road, and Road-head's edge. 
Alinskalar, formerly Alinschales, now Elliscales, and 
Alinthveit, formerly Allinthwaite, now Allithwaite, may 
be connected with " Helen," the chapel of St. Helen 
being near the former, the latter near a Holy-well, and 

both on the Roman road; thus pointing to the patroness 
of roads and wells in Yorkshire and Wales (see Elton, 
" Origins," p. 322). The rest are simply old Norse 
equivalents of the oldest known forms. In reading them 
the old pronunciation must be given as far as possible. 
Vigfusson and Powell (Icelandic Reader, p. 467,) give d 
as in father (though Bass becomes "bowse," and asmun- 
darlja becomes Osmotherley). Y short is like the French 
u; i long like the German . The diphthongs an, ei, 
ey, have the force of the component vowels. V is our 
w ; j our y ; J? is sharp th (thing;) $ is flat th (the) or 
dh. The terminal r of the nominative was dropped in 
pronunciation. So read, many names are identical with 
modern local forms; and few can be explained at all 
except as survivals from the Norse. 

Old Norse. 












(cf. Ermyngthweit) 






Ami's hillside 








Asmund's lea 








Outlaw's well 













Cooper's stead 



Birch ridge 

Blar vidhr 



Blue wood 

Bid tjorn 

Blea tarn 

Blue tarn 

Blatt vatn (or vatr) 

Blea water 

Blue water 

Bla vik 


Blue Bay 

Bleikr holmr 

Blake holm 

Yellow holm 














Broader water 

Brothers-water Road-water 





Brim-fell (from its form) 

Brim fell 

Breaking-wave fell 









Old Norse. 


Modern. Meaning. 


Bigland Barley-land 



Dalton Dale-town 

Djupr dalr 


Deepdale Deep dale 



Dockwray Dark nook 


Droomer Drelgh-mire 

Dunna-dalr (?) 


Dunnerdale Wild-duck's dale 



Dunnerholm Wild-duck's holm 


Ellerthwaite Elder-thwaite 


(Hall-) inge 

Ings Meadow 



Applethwaite Apple-thwaite 


(cf. Eschedale l.o.M.) 

Easedale Clay-dale 

Fagrt fold 

Fairfield Fair-field 



Finsthwaite Fin's thwaite 


Farragrain-gill Four-branches-gill 


(cf. Flascoo, Holm) 

Flaska Flat wood 



Flookburgh Host-burg 


(cf. Foxdale l.o.M.) 

Foxfield People's field 



Fornside Ancient seat 

Froska-vegr ( ? the 

road that jumps) 

Froswick Frog's path 


(cf. Gafl fell Iceland) 

Gavel Gable 


(cf. Grauff l.o.M.) 

Gargreave Garth-trench 


Guards Garths 



Gascow Garth wood 



? Ireleth Geirlod's beacon 


Goadsbarrow Priest's barrow 


Goathwaite Priest's thwaite 



Grasmere Grass-mere 



Graythwaite Gretti's thwaite 



Guisdale Pigs' dale 

Graen hop 

Greenup Green inlet 

Graenn kambr 

Greencomb Green crest 

Graenn oddr (or oddi) 

Greenodd Green point 

Grsenn skogr 

Greenscow Green wood 


Gummershow Gunnar's howe 

Gryta, Grjota 


Greta Stony river 


Greetygate Stony path 



Haverthwaite Oats-thwaite 



Hawkshead Hakon's seat 


Hallstead Rock-stead 

Hamal's setr 


Ambleside Hamal's seat 

Hat kot 


Hawcoat High cott 


Hawkswell Hawk's field 


Heathwaite Heath-thwaite 


High Haume and Heli 

in Crag Helmet 



Hartsop Hart's inlet 


Ladstones Pile-stones 



Old Norse. 














(Same in Iceland) 


Holy-place fellside 


(cf. Ramsey, l.o.M.) 


Raven's isle 




Raven's seat 



Reindeer's crag 





(cf. Rozefell, l.o.M.) 





Hound's howe 












Whelp's seat 





lilt bal 

111 Bell 

Evil beacon 




Earl's seat 




Edgar's fellside 




Calves' garth 


(cf. Cowper Cumb.) 


Traders' shore 





(cf. Ketelton, Kelton) 


Ketel's wall 







lutting-rock road 










Col ton 


Town on a peak 



Wood on a peak 







King's river 




King's headland 




King's town 


(Casticand, Camdeii) 






Long dale 


(same in Iceland) 




(cf. Lowther) 








Lon scale 



Low water 

Shallow water 





Lin dale 





















(c.f. Mansergh) 



Old Norse. 








Raudhr vollr 


Raudh skn'dha 


























Svartr mor 

















(c/'. Stavenerge 





Bent-grass fell 



Merry hall 









New settlement 


New town 


Snakes' thwaite 


Orm's gill 

Orrest head 

Battle headland 












Raud's isle 

Red Screes 

Red scree 




Pass of the rowan 


Rolf's land 


Rolf's seat 










Path over sands 














Sheds, halls 










Stony hillside 










Swart moor 






Old Norse. 









Narrow pass 


fons de Trankcld 


Narrow well 




Thorolf's well 




























Ul version 

Ulfar's town 



Ulf's lake 




Stone- walls 










Barn by the water 


(clouded before rain) 







(near " Druid circle." 









Many of these names deserve further explanation and 
illustration, and some may be thought doubtful. The 
confusion between vegr, road, and veggr, wall ; hlidh, 
fellside, and hlidh, gate; and that between setr, seat, 
satr, chalet, sfdha, countryside, and heed, head, must be 
allowed for. 


Frontispiece and Title. The two pages together give the 
view from Lake-bank at the foot of Coniston Water, to il- 
lustrate pp. 67, 68. Over Thorstein's head is the Old Man ; 
in the middle of the lake is Peel Island (p. 261,) above 
it, Fairfield, with Helvellyn (pp. 119, 288,) to the left. 
Under Helvellyn is Yewdale crag, with the White Lady 
(p. 117). Between Helvellyn and Fairfield is Grizedale 
Hause (p. 300). Under Fairfield is Nab Scar (p. 51). 
The lower points are easy to recognise. The frames of 
the views are imitated from Norse doorways ; the design 
over the title illustrates p. 142. 


P. I. Bardi Ottanon : slain 913 according to the 
Ulster Annals (Johnstone, Antiq. Celto-Normannicae, p. 
66) or 914, Sir J. Ware's Antiq. Hibernicae (op. cit. p. 77). 
Skene (Celtic Scotland, I. p. 347) reads Barid mac 
n- Octir, and explains " son of Ottir." I suppose Barid 
(Johnstone's Barred) is Irish for Bardi ; and that the 
headquarters of this viking were near the scene of the 
action, i.e., in Man, which had been deserted some 30 
years before, in the time of Harald's invasion (Reims- 
kringla, Harald, c. 22). 

Ketil Flatnose is named as one of the settlers in Ice- 
land who had been christened (Landnamabok). By 
other accounts he died in the South-isles (Eyrb. Saga, c. 
5). He is, however, by no means an easy subject for a 
biographer; compare Skene (Celt. Scot. I. p. 312,) with 
Eyrb. Saga, c. I. 

P. 2. Unna, Una, Unn. Aud, Ketel's daughter, is so 
called by Dasent (Burnt Njal, II. p. 240). Another Unn 
was her grand-daughter (Eyrb. c. 7). Another Una is 
mentioned in Grettis Saga, c. 3, as having a cousin 
Konal ; which connects the name with Ireland and 
suggests Fin McCoul's Oonagh and Spenser's Una. 

P. 2. Ragnwald; variously spelt and corresponding to 
Ranald, Ronald and Reginald, was one of the grand-sons 
of Ivar, who play so great a part in the period that it is 
perhaps worth giving a pedigree of the chief names, for 
reference throughout the story. Ragnwald himself is 
important because discrepancies in various accounts of 
his death have been used by partisan writers to throw 
doubt on the Commendation of Scotland to Eadward. 
His biography is, however, no more confused than any 
other for which we have to gather materials from widely 
divergent sources. 

He attacks Barid at the Isle of Man 913 or 914 : 
seizes Waterford 916 (Ulster Annals,) and is driven out 
by the Irish 918. He is, perhaps, the Hroald (Ronald) 
who comes with Ohtor (Ottar jarl) from Brittany to 
attack Wales, 918 (A.-S. chron.) or 915 (Florence of 
Worcester). Beaten off, he goes home to Ireland, and 



-M 3 








~l s 





IK * " 



O O> 





^J ob^ d\ 





845 at Paris. 

876 baptised 
as /^Ethelstan. 

ERTH, k. of York 88 


to QIQ k. of Dubli 
succ. Raofnvvald 
as k. of York 
925 d. 















W ^ 

Ol ^ 

o ^ 



< G* 





, ^ 


^ ^ 1-4 (SJ 


K ^ O\ O\ 








< t^f 



Oi ^ 

> VO t>- 

M 0000 



&ii c * 


f) i_*^ o 



hence with Ottar and Osulf Cracabam or Cracaban, 
(" Kraki's bane"?) he attacks Scotland : Symeon of 
Durham (Ed. Hodgson Hinde, p. 63,) says he ravaged 
" Dunbline " in 912 ; the anonymous history of St. 
Cuthbert (op. ell. p. 147,) makes him conquer the Scots 
at " Corebricge " ; the Ulster Annals give him an im- 
portant victory, in 917 (Ed. Johnstone,) or 918 (Ed. 
Skene, " Chronicles of the Picts and Scots " ;) the 
Pictish Chronicle (same vol. p. 9,) makes the battle at 
" Tinemore," and Ragnwald beaten ; the " wars of the 
Gaedhil and Gaill " kill him off, along with Ottar; 
others let him escape. Skene tries to reconcile these 
accounts (Celtic Scotland, I. pp. 347, 348,) but refuses 
to make a similar attempt for the rest of the story. 

Leaving Scotland he invades Bernicia and then Deira ; 
and takes York, 923 (A.-S. Chron.) or 919 (Symeon, 
corrected and confirmed by Hodgson Hinde, preface p. 
lii). The Saxon Chronicle says he was one of the kings 
who commended themselves to Eadward, 924; but the 
Ulster Annals make him die in 920 (Johnstone,) or 921 
(Skene). Skene suggests (Celt. Scot. I. p. 350,) that 
Florence ante-dates the Commendation to get Ragnwald 
in; Canon Raine (York, p. 37,) adopts the Saxon Chronicle 
date, but identifies this Ragnwald with Olaf Cuaran's 
ally 20 years later (R. Guthferthson, see pedigree,) and 
accounts for his absence by an invasion of France (on 
the suggestion of Lappenberg, following Frodoard). 

In all this, real events seem to be reported by totally 
independent chroniclers, each with his own partisan 
bias, and different system of chronology. But one does 
not invalidate the other. Ragnwald may well have won 
York, attended the Commendation, left York to his 
brother Sigtrygg, invaded France and died within a short 
time; though whether this was 919-921 or 923-925 may 
be left an open question. 

P. 4. Norse house, see Dasent's preface to Burnt Njal. 
It may be said here that the dress, manners, &c., of the 
story are based on sagas or archaeological evidence, com- 
pared with Lake District characteristics, which it would 


be tedious to point out in every instance : as for example 

P. 5. Chats, twigs. Long logs : there is a story told 
of Coniston Hall, and elsewhere, that when such a log 
had been three days burning, whoop ! out flew an owl. 

P. ii. Toy boats of chip. " Harald (afterwards Har- 
dradi) was sailing chips on the water. Olaf asked him 
what they were ; he said they were his war-ships." (St. 
Olaf's saga). 

P. 13. White linen sark. Anderson (Scotland in Pagan 
times : Iron Age, p. 30) shows linen smoothers of glass, 
used in getting up vikings' shirts. 

P. 18. Howe ; Eyrb. 38, and Magnusson's Note, p. 
277. The path is through the wood over the railway 

P. 20. Arnold's-by, Arnolby (temp. Ed. I.) Arnaby. 

P. 21. Sigurd's horg Sigarith-erge (temp. Ric. I.) 

Donal: Duvenaldus filius Ede rex eligitur (Pictish 
Chronicle) i.e., Domhnaill or Donal mac Aedh, brother 
of Constantine ; reigned over Strathclyde and Cumbria 
about 908-925. 

Cartmel, given by Ecgfrith to St. Cuthbert 677, " with 
the Britons on it." 

Halfdan. A coin of " HALFDAN REX " found at Castle- 
head, Grange, suggests that his conquest was wide- 

P. 22. Ketel, supposed founder of Kelswick on the 

Dundraw (c.f. Dunderrow, Ireland,) *' hill of oaks." 

P. 23. Sigtrygg ; see pedigree. In the English form 
Sihtric. " 919. Sigtrygg m' Ivar by the Divine power was 
forced to leave Dublin " (Ulster Annals) ; he came to 
Deira, and succeeded Ragnwald at York. 

P. 24. Manchester taken by Eadward 923 (A.-S. 

P. 25. Bakewell. Eadward " went into Peakland to 

Bakecanwell and commanded a town to be built nigh 

thereunto, and manned. And then chose him to father 

and to lord the Scots king and all the Scots' people, and 


Raegnald, and Eadulf's son, and all those who dwell in 
Northumbria as well English as Danes, and Northmen. 
and others, and eke the Strathclyde Welshmen's king 
and all the Strathclyde Welsh " (A.-S. Chron. 924 ; 
Florence, 921). As Freeman (Norman Conquest, I. p. 
578) points out, it is not said that the Commendation 
took place at Bakewell ; bat the text suggests it, enough 
at least for the purpose of a story. Sigtrygg is not 
named, but implied among the Danes. The mention of 
Northmen, as distinguished from Danes, indicates that 
Norse vikings were already settled in what is now the 
North of England, and such a settlement could hardly 
have been any other than ours on Solway and More- 
cambe Bay. 

P. 30. Death of Eadward, 924 or 925 (A.-S. Chron, 

P. 31. Pennington: the Castle hill is described by Mr. 
H. Swainson Cowper (Ancient Settlements, &c., of Fur- 
ness, Archasologia, Vol. LIII.) The name shows it to 
be Anglian, the settlement of the family of Paeninga, 
Penning, Penny, and therefore pre-Norse. Swarthmoor 
is so named before Martin Schwartz, though the origin 
of the name is only a guess. 

P. 37. Eathgita, Roger of Wendover, 925. 

P. 41. AtMstan. William of Malmesbury describes 
him (II. 6). In this "saga" the Norse form is used 
instead of ^Sthelstan, as Sigtrygg for Sihtric, &c. Ead- 
ward, however, and Eadmund correspond to the Norse 
Jatvard, Jatmund. 

P. 52. Donal, Donevaldus, d. 908, was the last king of 
Strathclyde claiming Roman descent (Skene, Celtic 
Scotland, I. p. 346.) 

P. 53- City of Helvellyn, Wythburri. The cyclopean 
wall of this " wide-borran " is now partly submerged. 
One section of it is taken to be the remains of a circle 
by the Rev. S. Barber, " Beneath Helvellyn's Shade." 

P. 55. Picts of Galloway, read " Gaels of Scotland," 
if the view be taken that all Picts were Ivernian. 

P. 55-60. Dacor, Dacre, so spelt (Bede, Ecc. Hist. 
QQ 321 

IV. 32,) to disconnect the name from the false etymology 
D'Acre. The Rev. Canon Mathews and the Rev. W. S. 
Calverley, F.S.A., (Trans. C. & W. Antiq. Soc., Vol. XI. 
Art. 18,) are followed as to the origin of the Dacre stone. 
The place of meeting, Emont, is a well-known crux. The 
initial is from an original sketch, with the plait down the 
edge of the stone turned into the curve of the D. Prof. 
George Stephens (Northern Mythology, S, 13,) considers 
that the Hart symbolizes Christ. The dedication of the 
church points to Wilfrith as founder. 

P. 59. Peaceful settlement of Northmen, see the Rev. T. 
Ellwood (Landnamabok, pp. iii, iv). The law of Athel- 
stan is given in Wilkin's Leges A.-S., quoted by Raines 
(Lancashire, I. p. 52). 

P. 64. Signy and Sigmund, Volsunga Saga, 7. 

P. 69. Anglo-cymric Score, Rev. T. Ellwood (Trans. 
Cumb. Assoc. VIII. p. 97.) 

P. 72. Thingstead at Fellfoot, Thingvollr on map, p. 
50; described by Mr. H. S. Cowper (Trans. C. & W. 
Antiq. Soc., XL p. i). 

Guthferth's invasion: A.-S. Chron. and Wendover, 927 ; 
Skene, Celtic Scotland, I. p. 251. William of Malmesbury, 
II. 6, makes him G. Sigtryggson, but Guthferth O'lvar 
was then king of Dublin (Ulster Annals). 

P. 74. Olaf Cuaran's marriage, Florence, 938. It may 
have been brought about by the invasion of Scotland 
mentioned under 931 in a fragment of Irish annals 
(Chron. P. & S. p. 407). 

P. 76. Iceland Althing founded 929 or 930 (Landn.t 

P. 79. Ravaging of Scotland, A.-S. Chron. and Wen- 
dover, 933 ; Florence, 934. 

P. 92. Heathwaite Settlement, described by Mr. H. S. 
Cowper (Ancient Settlements, &c., of Furness). He does 
not, however, accept the beehive hut, which I think I 
see in one of the cairns: nor is he responsible for the 
notion that the place was inhabited in the loth century. 
The legend though legends are not evidence suggests 
that it was inhabited down to times of which local 
memory takes notice, i.e., to the colonization of the 

neighbourhood by the ancestors of present inhabitants. 
And the fell-folk of Heathwaite could not have been kin 
to their neighbours in the dales, or they would not 
have been looked on as giants. The Rev. F. Evans, of 
Diversion, found calcined bones in the "Giant's Grave," 
from which Dr. Barber (Furness and Cartmel Notes, p. 
35,) thinks that it was a Viking interment. And yet 
there must have been Gaels, as well as Cymry, in the 
district, especially in the wilder parts, as shewn by a 
few Gaelic names ; and these Caledonian Gaels seem to 
have been distinguished by their tallness and their red 
hair, like Ironhook in Kingsley's " Hereward." 

P. 112. The Brough, Borch, Borg, at Broughton, pos- 
sibly an early fortress. 

P. 113. Confederation of Dublin Danes, Scots and 
Cumbrians, 937, leading up to Brunanburh. 

P. 119. Armboth Settlement has been previously men- 
tioned by Mr. W. Wilson (Trans. Cumb . and West. 
Assoc., IX. p. 62). These rectangular buildings, similar 
to others in the district, generally near Roman roads, 
connected with cairns, and in this case with a British 
fort; certainly not sheep-folds nor peat-sheds, seem to 
be post-Roman, and may have been inhabited at this 
time by " poor-folk," Armings ; whence perhaps the 
name Armboth. 

P. 126. Domhnaill, so spelt to distinguish him from 
previous Donals, is called by Roger of Wendover Dum- 
mail, and in local tradition Dunmail. The legend is 
that he loved a "fairy" in the Thirlmere valley; 
exchanged his torque for her ring ; deserted her for a 
beautiful captive ; and was led to destruction by her 
vengeance. He was, historically, king from about 937 
to 945 or 946, when Eadmund defeated him and put out 
his sons' eyes (Wendover, 946). He seems to have 
regained some portion of his power, perhaps as sub-king 
to Malcolm or leader of Gall-gaedhil in Demetia (Pem- 
brokeshire.) He may be the Donvald, father of Andarch 
in 971 (Skene, Celt. Scot. I. p. 367) and the Dufnall of 
Florence (corruptly Dusual in Wendover) who was one 


of the Celtic kings at Chester in 973. St. Cadroe visited 
him before his fall (Vita St. C. in Chron. Picts and 
Scots, p. 116,) and he died on pilgrimage to Rome 975 
(Ulster Annals, and Annals of Tighernac). 

P. 127. Mineralogy of Cockrigg gill. Of the Armboth 
and Helvellyn dyke, Mr. Clifton Ward (Geol. of the 
Northern Lakes, p. 34) says : " In a dull red felspathic 
base are numerous crystals of pink felspar and quartz, 
together with sparsely scattered green mica, and some 
of the same soft, steatitic-looking mineral as in the St. 
John's quartz felsite." He mentions (p. 103) how this 
dyke creates "doors" or chasms. 

P. 131. The mysterious fire, immense and yet uncon- 
suming, is one of the forms of the well-known Dalehead 
" Boggle" ; like other such appearances, a piece of wide- 
spread folklore, localized at this point, which is rich in 

P. 141. Birches. Where heather is, birches grew, 
and the roots are visible. The rolling forms of Kirkfell 
etc., are remarkable from Ullscarf, as are the monstrous 
shapes of boulders and hummocks near Bleatarn. But 
the blue railings of the Manchester Corporation boundary 
discount the romance, unless you get very tired and 
hungry, and meet a thunderstorm. 

P. 162. Fox and Geese. I have taken some liberty 
with the pieces in the picture. The " fox-game " was 
played with 12 lambs and a fox (Magnusson's Note to 
Grettis Saga, 70). The pieces were, however, carved as 
animals : see figures in Du Chaillu's Viking Age, II. p. 
354, and elsewhere. 

P. 183. Orkney dynasty: Orkneyinga Saga. I. 

P. 184. Thora's connections: Combining the above with 
Eyrb. (Magnusson's Genealogy,) we get the pedigree 

P. 1 86. Hakon the good. For his life and character 
see Heimskringla, Hakon, 6, n, 15-18, 32. 

P. 191. Bishop Aelfheah or Elphege the Bald, a rela- 
tive of Dunstan, bishop of Winchester 935-951 (Florence). 
Roger of Wendover gives legendary details. 



1 -1 



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P. 192. Eric at York has been thought unhistorical ; 
but mention of the fact is given by such independent 
witnesses as A.-S. Chron. 948 ; Florence, 949 ; Symeon 
of Durham, Hist. Reg. 948; and Hist. Cont. sub. ann. 
1072 ; Roger of Wendover, 950 ; Heimskringla, Hakon, 
3 ; Egils Saga, 72 ; Life of St. Cadroe (Chron. P. and S. 
p. 116). 

P. 214. Eadmitnd and E'/ic: Hakon, 4. Invasion o 
Olaf, A.-S. Chron. and Florence 941 ; and Symeon 940; 
from whose accounts it is clear that Wendover is wrong 
in making the leader on this occasion to be Olaf Cuaran. 
For the road by which the invasion was made see Skene, 
Celt. Scot. I. p. 361. 

P. 216. Athacliath, the Celtic name, which Domhnaill 
would use, for Dublin. 

P. 225. Doordooin, hence the dialect durdotn, uproar. 
The regulations mentioned are given by Magnusson, 
Note to Eredweller's Story, p. 275. Whittlegate, " knife- 
road," free play to one's knife; and (p. 243) addle w. " to 
earn board," from odhlaz, to earn. Hold up, to clear; 
cf. " das Wetter heilt sich auf." 

P. 230. Hundred of silver, i.e., 120 ells of cloth paid 
in silver; about 4 los. in our money, but worth much 
more where coin was scarce (Dasent, Burnt Njal, 

P. 244. Abbot of York. The dignitary now called 
" Dean" was styled Abbas (Raine, York, p. 166). 

P. 247. Death of Olaf, Symeon and Wendover, 941. 

P. 249. Marriage of Olaf, Wendover, 940. 

P. 252, St. Peter's, Raine, York, p. 187. 

P. 253. AelberhVs minster, built 8th century after a 
fire ; restored after the capture by the Danes (Raine, 
York, p. 148). 

P. 260. Peel Island. The traces of building marked 
on the map have been partly excavated by the present 
writer, but it would be premature to offer any definite 
opinion on their age. The place seems to have been 

P. 288. The Host of Weird. A spectre army, as 

described in the story, was seen on Helvellyn on the 
eve of the Battle of Marston Moor. On Midsummer 
Eve, 1735, and again on Midsummer Eve, 1737 and 1745, 
similar effects were seen on Souter Fell, to the imme- 
diate north of the Helvellyn range. In the last case 
some of the rebel forces were exercising on the Scotch 
coast, and it was explained by the Lonsdak Magazine that 
the movements of the troops had been reflected " by 
some transparent vapour similar to the fata morgana" 
(Survey of the Lake District, Miss Harriet Martineau, 
in Whellan's Cumberland and Westmorland). In our 
story, Eadmund's advance on Threlkeld sufficiently 
accounts for the mirage. 

P. 291. Eadrnund, " with the aid ot Leoling, king of 
South Wales, ravaged the whole of Cumberland and put 
out the eyes of the two sons of Dummail, king of that 
province. He then granted that kingdom to Malcolm, 
king of the Scots, to hold of himself, with a view to 
defend the northern parts of England from hostile inva- 
sions by sea and land," Wendover, 946: the A.-S. chron. 
and Florence make it 945 : Welsh annals give 944 and 
946. All suggest that the whole business was a puni- 
tive expedition to clear the north-western coast of 
Viking settlers, and to provide against attack from that 
quarter in future. That it was unsuccessful is seen 
from the fact that a similar invasion was made 55 years 
later. In 924 the Northmen swore to Eadward; in 945 
their settlements were the object of Eadmund's attack ; 
in 1000 they were again attacked by Ethelred. These 
are the points at which the Norse settlement of the Lake 
district comes into contact with general English history, 
and is corroborated by it. The third point is accepted 
by Mr. Freeman and others ; the first two I think worth 

P. 303. Eadmund's death, St. Augustine's Day, May 
26, 946, at the hands of Leof the robber. In a saga, 
the hero must be avenged before the story comes to a 

P. 304. Penalties of Wythburn, the bye-laws of an 


ancient parish parliament held at the Steading Stone : 
penalties for turning out too many sheep on the fell, 
allowing horses and cattle to stray, defiling the beck, 
&c. " A copy of this document is at present (1883) in 
the possession of Mr. Graves, ex-Mayor of Manchester," 
(Mr. W. Wilson, Trans. C. & W. Assoc. IX. p. 64). 

The Redheads. Throughout the Middle Ages the vil- 
lages of High Furness were inhabited by clans, as in 
Scotland. Records show that in Henry VIII. 's time at 
Nibthwaite all were Redheds (West, Antiq. of Furness, 
Ed. 1822, p. 32). 

May, 1903. 

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I 7 , 2 7 
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. 20 










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PR Collingwood, William Gershom 

4489 Thorstein of the mere